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Container of spermaceti from Albany whaling station

Date: Pre 1978
Overall: 1.7 kg
Medium: Spermaceti, plastic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Spermaceti
Object No: 00001859

User Terms

    This plastic container of spermaceti, a waxy whale by product, was manufactured at Albany. The last whaling station in Australia, The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, was located east of Albany and was closed in 1978. Spermacaceti was extracted from the head cavity of sperm whales and was used as an ingredient in cosmetics, ointments, lubricants and in earlier years in candles.
    SignificanceWhaling was a significant and vital industry in the early days of colonisation of Australia and certainly was the foundation of Albany’s growth and history. The Cheynes Beach Whaling Company was the last station ever to operate in Australia with the last whale caught in 1978.
    HistoryThe last Albany whaling station was established at Frenchman Bay in 1952. It was originally planned to be at Cheynes Beach east of Albany "but the ground at that bay was too soft to anchor a winch and pull a whale ashore to be cut up. They moved to Frenchman Bay which had a rock platform running down to the water" (page 46, Pash, C. "The Last Whale", Freemantle Press, 2008). Despite newer and improved tracking and hunting equipment, the company became non profitable and by 1978 the demand for whale products no longer existed. Local and international demands to ban whaling was generated by environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Project Jonah, who continued to pressure governments to ban whaling and lobby the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to do the same.

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