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Whalers And North Atlantic Ethnography

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Chapter Summary

This chapter talks about the rudiments of whaling. Scavenging was the most significant means of acquiring cetaceans. Ethnography of modern North Atlantic whalers provides unique insights into how the ancestors may have hunted. Rudimentary whale hunting methods such as coastal net and harpoon hunting and the rounding up of small cetaceans in fjords or inlets are conjectured to have been potential whale hunting strategies in prehistoric and early historic Britain and Scandinavia. The Faroese whale drive is a community-based non-commercial enterprise, in which free whale meat and blubber are shared throughout the village where whales landed. The hunters and the grindaformann, the whale drive foreman, who interprets the interplay of wind, water, men and whales skillfully control the whale drive. The last whaling strategy, common among northern whalers, is the harvest of young whales. Tracking and towing whales was a challenge, but medieval whalers found solutions to those problems.

Keywords: Britain; cetaceans; Faroese; fjords; North Atlantic Ethnography; scavenging; Whalers



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