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South Sea Whale Fishery with ships AMELIA WILSON and CASTOR

Date: 1 January 1825
Dimensions:
Overall: 610 x 759 mm, 0.4 kg
Medium: Coloured engraving on paper.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00017937
Place Manufactured:London

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    Description
    This hand coloured engraving depicts the whaling vessels AMELIA WILSON and CASTOR off the island of Bouro, Indonesia. The central ship displays a British Union Jack flag and is surrounded by five small boats in the process of hunting whales. One small boat is about to be turned over by a defensive whale as the crew of another prepares to harpoon a Sperm whale. This engraving was made after the painting by William Huggins who also arranged the publication of this engraving in 1825.
    SignificanceThis engraving is representative of whaling in the South Pacific during the 19th century and demonstrates the hunting techniques employed by whalers. The print was popular and has been reproduced in a number of versions.
    HistoryDuring the 1800s whaling was a large scale commercial enterprise that was conducted across the globe. The main industry centred on the American north-east coastal town of New Bedford which saw hundreds of ships heading out to the Pacific Ocean on a weekly basis. Whales were a valuable source of oil, baleen and ambergris, and used in the production of lamp fuels, lubricants, candles, corsets, buggy whips, perfumes and soaps.

    The sperm whale was a popular species of whale with hunters and commonly features in whaling scenes. It is the biggest of the toothed whales and can be recognised by its large squared-off head. It frequents all the worlds’ oceans and dives to depths of one thousand metres in search of squid and fish. In the 1800s, Sperm whales were a valuable source of ambergris (a waxy substance used in perfumes) and more importantly oil used in candles and fuels. Whalers’ drastically impacted Sperm whale numbers and despite their recovery they are currently listed as endangered.

    The whaling vessels AMELIA WILSON and CASTOR were active in the south pacific whaling industry in the first half of the 19th century. The island of Bouro in present day Indonesia was abundant with whales. English whalers were the first to hunt in these oceans, attracted to the region because of its close proximity to the Australian colony.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: South Sea whale fishery. A representation of the ships AMELIA WILSON and CASTOR off the island of Bouro...

    Web title: South Sea Whale Fishery with ships AMELIA WILSON and CASTOR

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