Humpback and fin whaling in the Gulf of Maine from 1800 to 1918

Humpback and fin whaling in the Gulf of Maine from 1800 to 1918

Randall R. Reeves


The Gulf of Maine is an oceanic body of water stretching from the coasts of New England and southern New Brunswick in the west to Nova Scotia in the east (Fig. 1). A series of shoals and submerged banks along its southern and eastern margins serve to separate the Gulf from the North Atlantic Ocean. Thus, while the cold, south-flowing Labrador Current is free to enter the Gulf from the north, warm waters of the Gulf Stream are deflected easterly around its southern margin. The circulation of predominantly cold, nutrient-rich water around the complex bathymetric features of the Gulf of Maine enhances its biological productivity (Yentsch et al., 1995). As a result, the region supports a wide range of marine animals, many of which are considered important resources, and large, migratory whales are among them.


Several baleen whale species occur seasonally in the Gulf of Maine, including fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus; common minke whales, B. acutorostrata; humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae; sei whales, B. borealis; and North Atlantic right whales, Eubalaena glacialis (Katona et al., 1983; Kenney and Winn, 1986; CETAP (1)). Exceptionally, blue whales, B. musculus, also occur in the Gulf during the summer (Wenzel et al., 1988).

In spite of a few published references to Indian whaling before contact, there is no definitive evidence of it (Little, 1981). There is, however, much evidence that the Indians used the products of whales that stranded or were found floating dead in nearshore waters (e.g, Allen, 1916: 145). In fact, it has been suggested that “drift whaling” was an organized pursuit, and that Indians made an organized effort to locate, salvage, and utilize the carcasses of such “drift” whales (Little and Andrews, 1982). Moreover, Indians were extensively involved as crew on colonial whaleboats, and their whaling skills contributed significantly to the development of American shore whaling (Macy, 1835; Little, 1981, 1988).

From the 17th century onward, New Englanders were known as skilled whalers who traveled extensively throughout the North Atlantic (and indeed the world) to hunt whales. It is reasonable to assume that they would have pursued right whales and humpback whales locally to the extent that doing so was feasible and economically rewarding. The most desirable species in the Gulf of Maine would have been the North Atlantic right whale, but it had been reduced to very low numbers there by 1800 (Reeves et al., 1999). The next most likely targets would have been humpback and fin whales, due to their large body size and predictable seasonal availability. Individuals of both species are known to exhibit strong, maternally directed fidelity to the Gulf of Maine (Clapham and Mayo, 1987; Clapham and Seipt, 1991).

While historical data are sparse, today humpback whales occur regularly in the Gulf of Maine from April through October (Clapham and Mayo, 1987; Baraff and Weinrich, 1993; Clapham et al., 1993; CETAP (1)), and feeding aggregations have been observed as late as December in some years (Geraci et al., 1989; Robbins, personal observ.). They are rarely observed between January and March, the peak mating and calving season in the West Indies (Katona and Beard, 1990; Clapham et al., 1993; CETAP (1)). Winter humpback whaling was, in fact, extensive and intensive in the eastern and southern West Indies from the 1860’s to 1880’s (Reeves et al., 2001; Reeves and Smith, 2002), so many Gulf of Maine migrants likely would have been killed at the southern end of their range during the 19th century.

Fin whales are also present in the Gulf of Maine from spring to late fall but are largely absent in the winter (Seipt et al., 1990; Hain et al., 1992; CETAP (1)). Unlike humpback whales, they are not known to follow a strict, long-distance migratory schedule, and their winter distribution appears more diffuse. Also in contrast to humpbacks, the faster-swimming fin whales were generally not hunted before the advent of modern whaling methods, specifically the use of powered catcher boats and explosive projectiles (Tonnessen and Johnsen, 1982). They only became regular prey of whalers in the last third of the 19th century.

Within the Gulf of Maine, humpback and fin whales exhibit habitat-use patterns that would have made them predictably available to be hunted. Their distribution is driven by the habitat preferences of their prey, presently sandlance, Ammodytes spp., and Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus, although menhaden, Brevoortia spp., also may have been important historically (Clark, 1887a; Webb, 2001). As a result, they tend to congregate near discrete bathymetric features, some of which are located close to shore (Hain et al., 1992; Hamazaki, 2002; CETAP (1)). However, the abundance of fin and humpback whales in any one area varies considerably within and between years in response to prey variability, and there is evidence that the two species do not respond to such variability in the same way (Payne et al., 1990). Thus, while the two whale species are roughly sympatric and have consistent habitat preferences, they would not necessarily have been equally available in all areas of the Gulf of Maine.

The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission initiated an assessment of North Atlantic humpback whales in 2001and completed this assessment in 2002 (IWC, 2002, 2003). The Committee used estimates of present-day abundance, estimates of life history parameters from modern fieldwork, and historical catch series to model population trajectories and estimate historical abundance (Smith and Reeves, 2002, 2003). Initial results (IWC, 2002) gave improbably low estimates of early abundance for the Gulf of Maine. This paper strives to improve understanding of the catch history of humpback whales in that part of their range. Historical literature was reviewed with the goals of describing the general nature of humpback and fin whaling in the Gulf of Maine from the early 19th century to the early 20th century and obtaining quantitative data on removals over that period. An earlier draft of this paper was used by the IWC Scientific Committee to complete its assessment of North Atlantic humpback whales in 2002 (IWC, 2003).

Materials and Methods

In addition to reviewing the standard period literature, one of us (RLW) conducted a search of archives and libraries in Maine for published and unpublished data on shore whaling in the Gulf of Maine. The sources examined in that search are summarized in Table 1. In addition, individuals with local knowledge were interviewed in Tremont and Day’s Ferry, Maine. Of special interest was whaling based at Provincetown, Mass., beginning in the late 1870’s. To investigate it, one of us (JR) examined local newspaper archives and other materials at the Provincetown Public Library (Table 2). An earlier search of New Brunswick, Can., sources had revealed meager evidence of shore-based whaling in the lower Bay of Fundy (Reeves and Barto, 1985). An extensive search of libraries, museums, and archives for data on right whale catches along the northeastern coast of the United States had found considerable evidence of shore whaling activities in Massachusetts from the late 17th to mid 18th centuries but little thereafter (Reeves et al., 1999).


Pre-Civil War (1860) Era Whaling

Hostilities associated with the War of Independence (1776-83) forced Nantucket whaling vessels, in particular, to redirect much of their whaling effort away from long-distance voyages and toward shorter, safer cruises in local waters. Since, by the mid 18th century, right whales were relatively scarce, the less desirable but nonetheless catchable humpbacks became frequent targets. For example, Allen (1916:312) cited Macy (1835) to the effect that between the War of Independence and the War of 1812, “the New England whalers continued to take Humpbacks on the shoals to the eastward of Nantucket.” Starbuck (1878: 94-95) reported that until 1813 when an English privateer raised havoc with the Nantucket fleet, the people “had fished unmolested both for cod-fish and for humpback whales on the shoals at the eastward of the island, and by this means eked out a livelihood …” Indeed, in 1813 ten small Nantucket vessels, and “several” in 1814, were reportedly whaling for humpbacks on the shoals (Starbuck, 1924:422). The sloops Rover and Success took two humpback whales during a brief cruise in the last week of September 1815 (Starbuck, 1924:424-5).

Very little is known about whaling in the Gulf of Maine between the War of 1812 and the American Civil War of 1860-65. General statements in Allen (1916), Goode (1884), and the Whalemen’s Shipping List (1843-1914), however, confirm that humpback whales were taken at least occasionally in local waters by whalers out of Nantucket, Provincetown, and several Maine ports. The data from Clark (1887a), Allen (1916), and Mitchell and Reeves (1983) were reviewed by Reeves and Smith (2002), and specific records from those and other sources are presented in Table 3.

There is some evidence of a smallscale whaling operation on Cranberry Island, Maine. Thomas Spurling’s will included a whaleboat and other whaling implements, and a whaleboat oar is preserved on the island (Liebow(2)). Tryworks once stood on Tryhouse Point at the head of Bass Harbor, Maine, in the modern village of Barnard, formerly West Bass Harbor (Kelley (3)).

Mitchell and Reeves (1983) cited the transition in whaling technology from the use of traditional hand-thrown harpoons and oar-powered boats to the use of bomb lances and steam power as an important development in the history of humpback whaling in New England. From the 1860’s onward, both fin whales and humpback whales could be taken with relative ease. Together, these species provided a sufficient resource base to support a resurgence in small-scale shore whaling enterprises along portions of the Gulf of Maine. A descendant of the whalers who operated out of Bass Harbor reported that they used a shoulder gun (3 in. diameter barrel, 1 in. bore, brass stock) to kill whales (Kelley (3)). This implies that the shore whalers from Maine participated during the latter part of their fishery (which ended about 1860–see Table 3) in the transition from hand-thrown, nonexplosive harpoons to explosive projectiles generally associated with the mechanical whaling era.

New England’s Rorqual Fishery, 1870’s-1890’s

Two types of vessels–schooners and steamers–were used in the New England rorqual fishery that began in the late 1870’s. Again, data from Clark (1887a) and Allen (1916) were reviewed in some detail by Reeves and Smith (2002) and are summarized in Table 3.

Schooner Whaling

Schooners that whaled in the Gulf of Maine were generally 50-75 tons. A 75-ton vessel would normally have a crew a 18 with two whaleboats carrying 6 men each (American, 1895). Two vessels that are repeatedly mentioned in the literature are the Brilliant and Bloomer, both of Provincetown (Mitchell and Reeves, 1983; Reeves and Barto, 1985; Webb, 2001 ; Reeves and Smith, 2002).

Hegarty’s (1959) list of Provincetown voyages in 1879 did not include the Brilliant, although this vessel is known to have taken at least four humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine that year. Nor do the sailing dates, return dates, and reported oil landings of the 14 voyages in Hegarty’s list suggest that any of them were centered in the Gulf of Maine. Six of the voyages lasted for more than a year. Of the remaining eight, the two voyages by the Rising Sun are known to have included whaling for humpback whales in the West Indies or for right whales off Georgia during the winter season (Reeves et al., 2001). The other six voyages all began in winter (January-March) and ended in August or September with at least some sperm oil on board, suggesting an offshore, distant-water North Atlantic itinerary. According to the Daily Times (1879), the Brilliant was an old pinky schooner that carried only one whaleboat and tried out the oil on shore (Webb, 2001).

The schooner mentioned by Reeves and Smith (2002) as having hunted humpbacks along the Maine coast in 1880 and 1881 was likely the Bloomer, noted in the Whalemen’s Shipping List (1843-1914) to have been “fitted for humpback whaling on the Coast of Maine” but to have taken mainly fin whales in 1880. It was also on the coast of Maine on 12 August 1881 with 75 barrels (bbl) of whale oil on board, then at Southwest Harbor, Maine, with two humpback whales alongside (expected to make 50 bbl of oil) on 29 August 1881 (Reeves and Barto, 1985). Hegarty (1959) listed the Bloomer as a 74-ton schooner that sailed from Provincetown on 24 January 1881 and returned 25 September 1881, with no sperm oil and 120 bbl of whale oil. Considering what is known about this voyage’s departure date and duration, it is possible that the 75 bbl of whale oil obtained before 12 August came from elsewhere in the North Atlantic (e.g. right whales off the southeastern United States or humpback whales in the Cape Verde Islands or West Indies during the months of January-May).

In 1882 the Bloomer was reported at Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Can., on 1 July with 30 bbl of whale oil on board, having taken one humpback whale; it had secured 120 bbl of whale oil for the season by that date (Reeves and Barto, 1985). Hegarty (1959) listed the Bloomer’s catch for 1882 as 110 bbl of whale oil and its sailing and arrival dates as 1 June and 5 October, respectively. This schedule, in contrast to that of 1881, would be quite consistent with a Gulf of Maine focus for the 1882 voyage. Two voyages were listed for the Bloomer in 1883, one from 13 March-20 August (obtaining 60 bbl of sperm oil and 100 bbl of whale oil) and the other from 17 December 1883-24August 1884 (obtaining 50 bbl of sperm oil and 15 bbl of whale oil; Hegarty, 1959). The latter voyage included a period in the West Indies, where the Bloomer was seen hunting humpback whales in April and May (Franklin (4)). Although the Bloomer continued whaling for two more years after 1884, its reported production consisted only of sperm oil (Hegarty, 1959).

Menhaden Steamer Whaling

The rorqual fishery by steamers in the Gulf of Maine was intertwined with the menhaden fishery. Indeed, menhaden oil was interchangeable with whale oil (Goode, 1887; Webb, 2001). A series of oil processing factories had been established from the 1840’s to the 1860’s, producing fish oil for use in tanning and curing leathers. When the availability of menhaden declined sharply in the Gulf during the late 1870’s, some fishermen tamed to whaling.

The steamer Mabel Bird was converted from menhaden fishing to whaling in 1880. It hunted humpback whales off Monhegan Island, Maine, and the carcasses were towed to an oil processing plant at the head of Linekin Bay in Boothbay Harbor (Maddocks, 1926; Webb, 2001). This was probably one of the earliest, if not the earliest, steam whaler to operate in the Gulf of Maine. Within a few years, at least five oil factories in Boothbay Harbor were processing whales. One was owned by Luther Maddocks (at least during 1880–85); the others were the Maine Oil Company and Cumberland Bone Company on Spruce Point; Suffolk Oil Works on the opposite side of the head of the bay; Richardson Fish Oil Works to the south of there; and a nearby plant operated by Alonzo R. Nickerson and his brothers (Greene, 1906; Webb, 2001). Another Boothbay steamer, the Fanny Sprague (Captain Albert Murray), was heavily involved in whaling during the mid 1880’s, but most of the whales taken were towed into Provincetown for processing (Webb, 2001). It cannot be assumed that the whaling steamers engaged in whaling fulltime during the whaling season. In fact, in 1885 the Fanny Sprague caught 245 bbl of mackerel one week and took a large fin whale the next week. The previous year the Sprague had taken nine whales while “intermittently” seining fish, amounting to a total of 6,000 lb of menhaden (Webb, 2001).

The largest number of steamers actively whaling in any one year seems to have been about five. Four (Wilcox, 1885) or five (True, 1904:65) were engaged in 1885 and three in 1886 (Wilcox, 1886; True, 1904:65). The vessels involved in 1885 included the Mabel Bird registered in Portland, Maine; the Hurricane registered in Rockland, Maine; the Fannie Sprague registered in New London, Conn.; and the Josephine registered in Norwalk, Conn. (Webb, 2001). A fifth vessel, the A.B. Nickerson (= Angelia B. Nickerson), was registered in Providence, R.I. (Webb, 2001; Fig. 2). In 1886 the Herman Reessing (variously spelled) of Eastport was added to the whaling fleet operating out of Boothbay (Reeves and Barto, 1985; Webb, 2001). Several additional steamers are known to have taken whales at least occasionally, including the Valora in 1885, the Nellie B. Rawson in 1886, and the Vigilant in 1895 (Table 3).


The Maine component of the fishery in 1885 produced 36,000 gal of whale oil, 2,000 lb of baleen, and “other products” both liquid and solid, with the total value listed as $23,066 (Register, 1885). This report was dated 30 September 1885 but it is impossible to ascertain whether the production was for the year to date, or only for the month of September. The former seems more plausible given that 36,000 gal represents about 1,143 bbl, equivalent to 57 rorquals at 20 bbl/whale or 38 at 30 bbl/whale. Given other information on the returns in 1885 (Table 3), it seems plausible that 41)–60 whales would have been delivered to the Maine stations between February and September that year. Some of the carcasses from whales killed in this fishery were boiled and made into “scrap” which was sold dry for $22/ton, “the only objection to it being the large percentage of oil which it contains” (True, 1904:65).

With the return of menhaden to the Gulf of Maine in 1886, steamer whaling lost its appeal and most of the steamers returned to fulltime fishing. As Webb (2001:286) concluded, whaling “merely served as a stopgap while awaiting the fish, and was quickly abandoned when they returned” In September 1887, one of the Boothbay oil factories that had processed many of the whales taken by the steamers changed hands (Register, 1887), and the evidence overall suggests that there was a sharp decline in the numbers of rorquals taken after 1886 (Table 3). Although some Provincetown, Mass., whalers, including the steamer A. B. Nickerson, were still engaged in whaling in local waters as late as 1896, it is clear that this activity had essentially ended within a few years thereafter (Allen, 1916). When several fin whales entered Provincetown Harbor on 1 March 1899, and two more came in a fortnight later, the many fishermen present “made no attempt to capture them” (Allen, 1916). Similarly, whales observed near Provincetown and Nantucket in 1901 were not molested (Allen, 1916).

A whaling station was established on Greene Island near Vinalhaven, Maine, in 1885 and another at Carver’s Harbor, also on Vinalhaven, sometime after 1900, apparently at about the time of World War I (Calderwood, 1972; Webb, 2001). Nothing is known about catches at these sites, but a contemporary photographic postcard depicts a humpback whale, dead and bloated, at the Carver’s Harbor station (Webb, personal observ.). That station employed Portuguese flensers, and its catcher vessel was the Palm, a 51-ft gas-powered yacht (Calderwood, 1972; Webb, 2001). The kill of a stranded fin whale by Indians near Eastport, Maine, in January 1912 (Allen, 1916) appears to have been exceptional.

Whaling Grounds

Whales were killed in many parts of the Gulf, but a few specific areas were mentioned as especially productive. The whalemen based at Prospect Harbor, Maine, found fin and humpback whales on Jones’ Grounds and Schoodic Ridge and along the coast to Monhegan Island (American, 1895). The Linekin Bay whalers apparently found an area about three miles west of Monhegan Island to be highly productive. In addition to the 1880 report regarding the Mabel Bird (above), the Fanny Sprague killed one of about seven or eight fin whales encountered at this site in mid July 1884 (Daily Times, 1884). A very large humpback was taken in October 1846 between Monhegan and George’s Islands (American, 1895). The same whaler took a 45-bbl, 45-ft whale (species not indicated) on German Bank (off the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia, centered at about lat. 66[degrees]30’N, long. 43[degrees]20’W) and a 20-bbl, 96-ft fin whale between the Schoodic Ridges (near Mount Desert Rock, Maine) and German Bank. He was knocked out of his boat by a whale on the outer ridge, some 50 miles off Mount Desert, Maine. Both German Bank and the Schoodic Ridges remain good areas for observing fin and humpback whales (Clapham, personal observ.). Shore whalers in Maine hunted fin whales to the south of Seal (“Sial”) Island and off Mount Desert Rock during the early 20th century (Calderwood, 1972).

There was a great advantage to whaling in shallow water because the deeper the water, the poorer were the chances of retrieving whales that sank (see below). It was claimed in 1885 that the whales were responding to whaling pressure by moving into deeper water, and there was concern that this would make the fishery unfeasible. “After being killed, they usually sink, and it is doubtful if the business, as at present conducted, will last if the whales are driven off from near shore, it being difficult to recover them in over 40 fathoms of water” (True, 1904:64).


Whaling was conducted in the Gulf of Maine in all months, at least on an opportunistic basis. In most years, steamer whaling began in February or March and continued into November (Table 3). There is a suggestion in the data that fin whales, at least, were available in sufficient numbers throughout the spring and summer months to sustain the fishery. Too few of the records, however, had both date of capture and species identification, so no rigorous comparative analysis of seasonal trends in the proportions of fin and humpback whales in the catches was possible.

Hunting Loss

Bomb lances were associated with high loss rates in both schooner and steamer whaling (Reeves and Smith, 2002). Therefore, any estimates of landings need to be adjusted to account for hunting loss (i.e. whales that were struck but not secured). In some respects this was a shoot-and-salvage fishery. In fact, in the summer of 1886 a reward was being offered by one of the oil factories at Linekin, Maine, “for news leading to recovery of drift whales” (Register, 1886f). Although the American open-boat whalers had developed special techniques and devices for “raising” humpback and fin whales that sank (Brown, 1887: 270-271), no evidence was found to suggest that these were used in the Gulf of Maine. In attempting to estimate the total kill, it is important to avoid “double counting,” which would result if one were to register individual whales that were reported as salvaged without somehow deducting them from the estimated or inferred struck/lost component.


Species Composition of Catches

There was a clear historical progression in the Gulf of Maine, as elsewhere in the world, from an early preference for right whales, to more frequent catching of humpback whales as right whales became scarce, and finally to taking other rorquals as well (mainly fin whales) once the technology for doing so had become available. An important consideration is that although the rorqual fishery in the Gulf of Maine during the second half of the 19th century probably took few right whales, the whalers certainly would have attempted to take any they encountered.

Therefore, the lack of reports of right whales reinforces the conclusion that very few of them remained in the Gulf of Maine by the 1880’s (Reeves, 2001). During the entire 19th century, humpback and fin whales appear to have been the principal species taken in the Gulf (American, 1895).

More than half of the kill throughout the 1880’s probably consisted of fin whales, and humpbacks may have constituted less than about a quarter of the total whale kill during that decade. The Provincetown catch of about 100 whales in 1880, for example, included only 3 humpbacks and the rest were fin whales (Clark, 1887a). This ratio, however, may not have applied to the Maine whalers. One authority with first-hand experience in steamer whaling reported that he took primarily humpbacks (Maddocks, 1926; Webb, 2001), and, according to another source, a humpback was “much more valuable than a finback, yielding twice as much of oil for the same size of creature” (Clark, 1887a:45). Although newspaper accounts are not particularly reliable on such matters, they tended to regard the humpback as the principal target species in Maine (Daily Times, 1885e).

It is uncertain whether, or to what degree, the rorqual whalers selected one species over the other. Although humpbacks (1) would have been easier to approach than fin whales, (2) would have produced more oil per unit of length, and (3) may have sunk less often after being killed, there is no clear evidence that the steam whalers hunted them preferentially. It is possible that the catch composition was affected by the relative seasonal availability of the two species. Fin whales could have been present during the entire whaling season from late winter to late autumn, while humpbacks would not have been available until they arrived from their southern wintering areas in late spring. Indeed, the 40 whales taken by steamers early in the 1885 season (March-April) averaged 60 ft long and 25 tons in weight, yielding 20 bbl of oil, 2 bbl of meat, 5 tons of “dry chum,” and 2 tons of bone (baleen), for an average value of $400/whale (Wilcox, 1885; True, 1904:64). Based on this description, these likely were all or mostly fin whales.

An alternative explanation of the predominance of fin whales in late 19th century catches might be found in the different catch histories of the two species. Humpbacks had been exploited relatively intensively over much of their North Atlantic range prior to the introduction of steam power and explosive projectiles (Reeves and Smith, 2002), whereas fin whales only began to be killed in significant numbers in the late 1860’s and 1870’s as modern whaling methods became increasingly available (Tonnessen and Johnson, 1982). It is therefore possible that humpbacks had simply become less available in the Gulf of Maine by the 1870’s and 1880’s because of their longer history of exploitation.

Opportunistic vs. Dedicated Whaling

Some of the records of “whaling” listed in Table 3 refer to instances in which whalers or fishermen, who were either idle or engaged in nonwhaling activities, chased and attempted to kill whales that they encountered opportunistically. Interpretation of the historical record must therefore attempt to discriminate evidence of purposeful whaling activity directed at particular target species (“dedicated whaling”), from evidence that indicates the less deliberate search for and pursuit of such species (“opportunistic whaling”).

There is also some ambiguity associated with incidents involving entanglement or entrapment in fishing gear. For example, in cases where minke whales were reported as being “captured” (Allen, 1916), it is probably more likely that they were “by-caught” in fishing gear than harpooned while freely swimming. In fact, of the 25 minke whale records mentioned by Allen (1916) from 1849 to 1913, no fewer than 9 explicitly involved capture in fishing weirs.

Removals of Humpback Whales by Whaling in the Gulf of Maine

No good time-series of catch data exists for the Gulf of Maine. The available data are often equivocal concerning numbers and species taken. Nevertheless, there is sufficient anecdotal information on whaling activity to conclude that humpback whales were hunted at least on a small scale throughout the 19th century. Small-scale, shore-based whaling enterprises existed along the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts from the early 1800’s to the 1860’s, but their combined annual catches of humpback whales may not have exceeded 10-20 animals. Whale ships, as opposed to whaleboats, from Provincetown and Nantucket are known to have conducted short cruises on Nantucket Shoals and elsewhere in the Gulf of Maine from time to time, but the evidence for such whaling is sporadic and essentially anecdotal. Again, catch levels for these vessels appear to have been in the single digits or low tens, at the most, in any single year.

The introduction of bomb-lance technology in the 1850’s and 1860’s made it easier to kill both humpback whales and fin whales, and by the 1870’s the scale of removals of fin whales would have increased greatly. The same may also be true of humpback whales, but there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. Schooners were outfitted to hunt rorquals in the late 1870’s and 1880’s, and they probably took a few tens of humpback whales in some years.

In about 1880, fishing steamers began to hunt whales in the Gulf of Maine. This steamer fishery grew to include about five vessels by the mid 1880’s but quickly dwindled to only one vessel after menhaden returned to the Gulf in large numbers in 1886. Fin whales constituted at least half of the catch by the steamers, and the total number of humpback whales taken in any year (including secured and shot/lost whales, combined) was probably fewer than 100. Inferences about changes in whaling effort and catch could be confounded by the fact that newspapers and other printed sources were themselves expanding with time, perhaps thereby increasing the likelihood that whaling activities would be recorded. As noted in Table 2, few Provincetown newspapers published between 1880 and 1904 were available for review. If those materials could be found and examined, it might provide better documentation of catches during that period. Otherwise, however, there is no obvious approach to improving our current fragmentary state of knowledge.

Table 1.–Sources in Maine examined by RLW for whaling data.

Institution Documents

Boothbay Region Historical Boothbay Register newspaper

Society, Boothbay Harbor

Maine State Archives, Augusta Federal Census record for State

of Maine

Maine State Library, Augusta

Frenchboro Historical Society,


Mount Desert Historical Society,

Mount Desert

Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport

Tremont Historical Society, Tremont Census records for town of

Mount Desert

Maine Maritime Museum, Bath Daily Times newspaper

Institution Period

Boothbay Region Historical Complete run available

Society, Boothbay Harbor 1876-late 1880’s

Maine State Archives, Augusta 1850,1860

Maine State Library, Augusta

Frenchboro Historical Society,


Mount Desert Historical Society,

Mount Desert

Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport

Tremont Historical Society, Tremont 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830

Maine Maritime Museum, Bath Complete run available;

checked late 1870’s-1880’s

Institution Comments

Boothbay Region Historical Interview with Barbara Skinner

Society, Boothbay Harbor Rumsey, Director who provided

newspaper extracts which were

then verified by direct


Maine State Archives, Augusta

Maine State Library, Augusta No relevant holdings identified

Frenchboro Historical Society, Interview with Vivian Lunt,

Frenchboro Historian

Mount Desert Historical Society, Interview with Jaylene B. Roths,

Mount Desert Director and President

Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport Interview with Jon Arrison,


Tremont Historical Society, Tremont Interview with Arlene Barlett,


Maine Maritime Museum, Bath Newspaper extracts prepared by

Nathan Lipfert, Library

Director, in 1975

Table 2.–Sources in Province, Mass., Public Library examined by JR for

whaling data

Documents Issues/Time Period

Provincetown Advocate newspaper 2/2/1869, 3/3/69, 4/7/69, 5/5/69

6/2/69, Dec. 1869; 1/5/1870;

Jan. 1871, 3/1/71; Jan. and Dec.

1873 and 1874; Jan., Feb., and Dec.

1875; only for 1876-80, 1889, 1905-09

Provincetown Banner & News July 1856; 1/19/1857, 4/23/57,

newspaper 4/30/57, 9/10/57, 12/10/57;

2/18/1858, 6/10/58, 1/13/1859

10/20/59, 11/24/59,

12/8/59, 6/14/1860, 6/21/60,

11/29/60; 1/3/1861, 5/9/61

Provincetown Beacon newspaper 8/2/1890, 9/6/90, 10/25/90

Provincetown News newspaper 1/7/1871

Books in historic books section Late 1800’s/early 1900’s

Documents Comments

Provincetown Advocate newspaper 1881-98 and April 1899-1904

issues were unavailable for

review; in early years, Jan. issues

summarizes previous year’s

whale and fish oil production for

Barnstable Co.

Provincetown Banner & News All available were checked


Provincetown Beacon newspaper All available issues through

through 1900 were checked

Provincetown News newspaper Only issue available

Books in historic books section A few item found to be relevant

Table 3.–Gulf of Maine whaling records post-1799. References from

Mitchell and Reeves (1983) and Reeves et al. (1999) are designated

as * and **, respectively. RW=right whale, FW=fin whale, HB=humpback

whale, MW=unidentified whale, s/l=struct but lost.

Date (1) Whales taken (2)

Apr. 1880 3 RW

ca. 1805-10

1810-34 <6-7/yr



27-29 Sept. 1815 2 HB

Early May 1822 1 RW

Early Aug. 1827 2 HB

5 July 1834 1 FW

11 Apr. 1835 1 RW

1835-40 6-7/yr UN

20 May 1836 1 HB or FW

1841-60 <6-7/yr

1840-60 3 or more/yr UN

11 May 1843 1 RW

July 1844 1 HB

1845 7 HB, 1 FW

10 Dec. 1846 1 FW

Oct. 1846 1 HB

Mid Apr. 1848

Late Jan.-early Feb. 1850 2 RW1

1 Nov. 1850 1 RW


1850 1 HB

1852 6 HB


1852 1 HB

Early Oct. 1852 2 UN

Mid May 1852 1 RW

Oct. 1852 1 UN

1853 4 HB

Apr. 1853 2 UN

6 July 1854 1 FW

11 Dec. 1854 1 RW

17 Nov. 1855 1 FW

20 Aug. 1856 1 UN

1857 1 HB

15 Apr. 1857 2 FW

1858 1 MW

Late Nov. 1858


17-24 Mar. 1860 1 ?

25 July-Early Nov. 1861 5 HB


Aug. 1863

Apr. 1864 1 RW

1866 1 HB

1867-84 2-3 RW

1867 1 RW

25 Oct. 1868

Autumn 1868 1 FW

1870 1 FW

1 Mar. 1870 2 RW

20 Oct. 1870 1 FW

Oct. 1871 1 FW

10 Dec. 1872 1 FW

23 Oct. 1874 4 FW

1875 1 HB

1878 1 HB

1878 1 HB

Spring 1879 2 HB

By 1 Oct. 1879 4 HB

Spring 1880 1 HB

May 1880 1 UN

1880 (3 HB)

Spring 1880 6 FW

Mar.-mid May 1880 40 mainly FW

10-15 June 1880 10 mainly FW

1881 2 HB

1881 (Several HB)

1881 20 HB

1883 9 mainly FW

Early Mar.-April 1884 Many mainly FW

Before 22 July 1884 19 mainly FW

Ca. 10 Feb.-13 Mar. (7-15 UN)


13 Mar.-28 Apr. 1885 (21 mainly FW)

Mar.-Apr. 1885 (Ca. 40 UN all

told through April)

Late Apr. 1885 (4 FW)

May 1885 (1 UN)

June 1885

Ca. mid June 1885 (1 UN)

Before 7 July 1885 (37 mainly FW)

20 May 1885

Mid to late May 1885 (1 UN)

3 July 1885 1 FW

7 July 1885 (1 FW)

Early-mid July 1885 (3-4 UN)


By 30 Sept. 1885 Ca. 100 FW and HB


20 Feb. 1886

Mid March 1886

By 10 Apr. 1886 (3 UN)

Mid March 1886

Ca. 27 May 1886 (2 UN)

Late May/early (4 UN)

June 1886

June 1886 (Some UN

mainly FW)

Before 20 June 1886 (1 UN)

Before 10 July 1886 90 UN mainly FW

1886 4 RW

10 July 1887 1 UN

1887 1 RW

1887 52 UN

1887 ca. 50 UN

20 Apr. 1888

20 May 1888 2 RW

May 1888 1 RW

1 June 1888 2 RW

5 June 1888 1 FW

1 May 1890 1 FW

12 Sept. 1894 1 FW

Late Sept. 1894 1-2 FW

Late Mar. 1895 1 RW

12 Apr. 1895 1 FW

12 Apr.-16 May 1895 5 FW, 3 UN

1895 1 FW

Early May 1895 2-3 FW

1895 1 HB

Before 23 Apr. 1896 2 HB, 2 UN

23 Apr. 1896 2 FW

Late Sept. 1896 1 FW

15 Jan. 1909 1 RW

Date (1) Vessels

Apr. 1880

ca. 1805-10 4, with 14 man crews


1813 10 small

1814 “Several” small

27-29 Sept. 1815 Rover and Success

Early May 1822 Cape Cod vessel

Early Aug. 1827 Sloop Rapid of Nantucket

5 July 1834 Small local boat

11 Apr. 1835 Shooner Columbia of Provincetown


20 May 1836 2 Portsmouth boats



11 May 1843 Schooner Cordelia of Provincetown

July 1844

1845 Schooner Huzza from Maine

10 Dec. 1846

Oct. 1846

Mid Apr. 1848 5 vessels from Plymouth

Late Jan.-early Feb. 1850

Nov. 1850 3 local boats

1850 Vesta of Provincetown

1850 Council of Provincetown

1852 Hamilton of Nantucket

1852 Hamilton of Nantucket

1852 Provincetown schooner

Early Oct. 1852 Schooner Union of Provincetown

Mid May 1852 Provincetown vessel

Oct. 1852


Apr. 1853 3-4 Provincetown vessels

6 July 1854

11 Dec. 1854 Provincetown vessel (probably)

17 Nov. 1855 Local boat

20 Aug. 1856

1857 Rienzi of New Bedford

15 Apr. 1857


Late Nov. 1858


17-24 Mar. 1860

25 July-Early Nov. 1861 Samuel Chase of Nantucket


Aug. 1863 Local boats

Apr. 1864




25 Oct. 1868 Local boat

Autumn 1868 Blackfish [pilot whale] boats

1870 Vessel from Prospect Harbor, Maine

1 Mar. 1870

20 Oct. 1870

Oct. 1871

10 Dec. 1872 Local boat

23 Oct. 1874

1875 Schooner Starlight



Spring 1879

By 1 Oct. 1879 Schooner Brilliant of Provincetown

Spring 1880

May 1880


Spring 1880 Provincetown whalers

Mar.-mid May 1880 Provincetown whalers

10-15 June 1880 Provincetown whalers

1881 Schooner Bloomer of Provincetown



1883 Steamer Fanny Sprague of Boothbay

Early Mar.-April 1884 4 Steamers from Cape Cod and Maine

Before 22 July 1884 Streamer Fanny Sprauge of Boothbay

Ca. 10 Feb.-13 Mar. Steamer Fannie Sprauge of

1885 Boothbay

13 Mar.-28 Apr. 1885 Steamer Fanny Sprauge of Boothbay

Mar.-Apr. 1885 4 steamers: Fannie Sprague,

Mabel Bird, Hurricane, and Josephine

Late Apr. 1885 Fanny Sprague (towed to Portland

Steam tug William H. Clark)

May 1885 Steamer Mabel Bird of Boothbay

June 1885

Ca. mid June 1885

Before 7 July 1885 Joshua Nickerson

20 May 1885

Mid to late May 1885 Steamer Valora, Capt. Haskell

3 July 1885

7 July 1885 Joshua Nickerson

Early-mid July 1885


By 30 Sept. 1885


20 Feb. 1886 New steamer, prob.

Angelia B. Nickerson, Boothbay

Mid March 1886 Steamer Ressing

By 10 Apr. 1886 Steamer Ressing

Mid May 1886

Ca. 27 May 1886 Ressing

Late May/early Ressing, Murray

June 1886

June 1886 3 steamers, including

Herman Reessing

Before 20 June 1886 Fishing streamer Nellie B. Rawson

Before 10 July 1886 Steamer Herman Reessing


10 July 1887 Local boat


1887 Steamer A.B. Nickerson

1887 Vessel other than A.B. Nickerson

20 Apr. 1888

20 May 1888

May 1888 Steamer A.B. Nickerson (probably)

1 June 1888 Steamer A.B. Nickerson

5 June 1888 Steamer A.B. Nickerson

1 May 1890 Provincetown vessel

12 Sept. 1894

Late Sept. 1894 Provincetown vessels

Late Mar. 1895

12 Apr. 1895

12 Apr.-16 May 1895 A.B. Nickerson of Provincetown

1895 Steamer Vigilant

Early May 1895 Vessels other than A.B. Nickerson


Before 23 Apr. 1896 Steamer A.B. Nickerson of


23 Apr. 1896 Provincetown vessels

Late Sept. 1896

15 Jan. 1909

Date (1) Comments

Apr. 1880 At Nantucket; 31, 16, and 30 bbl oil

ca. 1805-10 Wellfleet, Mass., said to hunt

humpbacks in Gulf of Maine

1810-34 Shore station, Prospect Harbor, Maine

1831 From Nantucket, humpbacking on

Nantucket Shoals

1814 From Nantucket, humpbacking on

Nantucket Shoals

27-29 Sept. 1815

Early May 1822 s/l in Boston harbor; species

identification uncertain

Early Aug. 1827 On the shoals about 20 mi E of

Nantucket in 18 fathoms;

50 bbl of oil was expected from the

bubbler; Capt. Myrick

5 July 1834 Gloucester harbor; s/l; species

identification uncertain

11 Apr. 1835 75-80 bbl oil expected

1835-40 shore station, Prospect Harbor, ME;

up to 10 some years

20 May 1836 35 ft; harpooned off Portsmouth by

Nantucket whaleman

1841-60 Shore station, Prospect Harbor,

Maine Active

1840-60 Shore station near Tremont, Maine

11 May 1843 Great South Channel; 125 bbl oil,

300 lb of 14-ft baleen

save; whalers estimated potential

yield as 300 bbl and

1500 lb; posibly a bowhead

according to Allen

July 1844 Found dead off Petit Manan

Lighthouse, Maine;

“perhaps … killed by the shore whaler.”

1845 Capt. J. Bickford

10 Dec. 1846 5 ft; in Provincetown harbor

Oct. 1846 Capt. Justice W. Bickford; taken into Prospect

Harbor; > 100 bbl oil worth $1500

Mid Apr. 1848 Several right whales chased

Late Jan.-early Large (1 of them 50 bbl);

Feb. 1850 in Provincetown harbor

Nov. 1850 60 bbl oil; Provincetown harbor

1850 80 bbl HB oil


1852 130 bbl oil; s/l 5 HB

1852 60 bbl HB oil

1852 40 bbl oil

Early Oct. 1852 In Massachusetts Bay; Allen (p.314)

suspected they were

humpbacks based on time of year,

but also suggested they

were probably right whales (p.136)

Mid May 1852 In Massachusetts Bay; 75 bbl oil,

8 ft baleen

Oct. 1852 Off Cape Elisabeth, Maine; 30 ft;

reported as a fin whale,

but Allen suspected minke whale

1853 “Shoals whaling”

Apr. 1853 Possibly a third s/l; Province harbor;

Allen suggested these may have been right whales

6 July 1854 Outside Nantucket harbor; large

11 Dec. 1854 Drifted ashore at Sandwich bearing

harpoon probably

affixed in Provincetown harbor;

48 ft, 30-60 bbl oil

17 Nov. 1855 s/l off Provincetown

20 Aug. 1856 Small whale killed near Lubec,

Maine after becoming

trapped in a herring weir;

possibly a minke whale


15 Apr. 1857 s/l off Provincetown

1858 Provincetown, reported as “Grampus Whale”

Late Nov. 1858 Right whale fired at with harpoon guns

in Provincetown harbor

1859 180 bbl HB oil

17-24 Mar. 1860 Provincetown harbor

25 July-Early Nov. 1861 125 bbl HB oil

1861 349 bbl HB oil from “shore and shoals

whaling from Prov’town

and Nant’et” (probably includes Samuel

Chase’s production)

Aug. 1863 “Efforts have been made” to catch a

whale seen in Penobscot Bay

Apr. 1864 Off Plymouth, towed to Provincetown;

48 ft, 80 bbl oil

1,000 lb baleen

1866 Portland, Maine, harbor

1867-84 Provincetown

1867 Cape Cod Bay; 4 8ft, 84 bbl oil,

1,000 lb baleen

25 Oct. 1868 4 fin whales chased off Nantucket

Autumn 1868 Off Cape Cod; >60 ft, 20 bbl oil

1870 Capt. J. Bickford

1 Mar. 1870 Cow/calf; cow lanced but not secured;

Provincetown harbor

20 Oct. 1870 Off Gloucester; 45 ft

Oct. 1871 Off Gloucester

10 Dec. 1872 S/I in Provincetown harbor

23 Oct. 1874 Shot, killed, but sank in Vineyard

Sound, MA (Allen, p.256, reported that

one may have been a blue whale)

1875 Cape Cod Bay

1878 Cape Cod

1878 “Found adrift and towed into Portland

Harbor”; “a harpoon embedded in its

back and … other lacerated”

Spring 1879 Killed with bomb lances; another

stranded; all at Provincetown

By 1 Oct. 1879 155 bbl oil

Spring 1880 Bass Harbor, Maine; 1,200 gal oil

“but no bone of value.”

May 1880 Drifted ashore at Small Point near mouth of

of Kennebec River, Maine, “presumably

shot by ‘whalers”

1880 Killed with bomb lances at Provincetown

Spring 1880 Found floating in Massachusetts

Bay and towed to Gloucester but only 3

were processed and the others discarded

(Clark); 4 towed to Gloucester

(longest 65 ft) before 13 May (True);

one (55 ft) drifted ashore near

Gloucester before 23 July (True)

Mar.-mid May 1880 38 processed at Jonathan Cook’s

oil works on Long Point;

2 sold for exhibition (NY and Boston)

10-15 June 1880 Processed at Cook’s oil work;

at least 10 more were killed

but not secured

1881 Bloomer took 5 whales in one

summer in early 1880’s

(fide Ralph Stanley,pers.comm. to RLW)

1881 All but 1 killed/sank at Provincetown

before 11 April

1881 Shot with bomb lances at Provincetown;

“doubtless others were killed at this


1883 Capt. Albert Murray

Early Mar.-April 1884

Before 22 July 1884 64 ft largest; a 64 ft specimen was

expected to yield 25-30 bbl

oil; 18 of the 19 were taken into

Provincetown, only one into

Linekin; Capt Albert Murray

Ca. 10 Feb.-13 Mar. One towed into Gallup’s Factory

(Linekin) ca. 26 Feb. (72 Ft)

(Times); 6 shot first week of March,

of which 2 were towed to

Linekin and 4 that sank were buoyed

(True); 3 other plus

2 “buoyed outside” on a ca. 13 March,

plus 2-3 others sank

(Register); Capt. Albert Murray

13 Mar.-28 Apr. 1885 Steam whaling a “regularly organized

business” in Gulf of Maine; 8th whale of

session delivered to Richardson’s

(=Gallup’s) Factory on a ca. 1-2

Apr. (70 ft), shot near

Pemaquid; Capt. Albert Murray

Mar.-Apr. 1885

Late Apr. 1885 Taken in one day off Provincetown

May 1885 Whale carcass exhibited in Portland

June 1885 Fanny Sprague ‘has taken twenty-six

or more finbacks off the Maine coast

since February.’

Ca. mid June 1885 Shot and towed to Portland for

exhibition; probably a fin whale

Before 7 July 1885

20 May 1885 Whaling suspended at Boothbay

because of stench

Mid to late May 1885 For Boothbay oil plant, or to exhibit

in Portland; probably a fin whale

3 July 1885 Stranded at Mt Desert Light Station,

probably had been shot by a whaling


7 July 1885 In Massachusetts Bay

Early-mid July 1885 For Richardson’s Factory, flensed

Heron Island

1885 Total catch by all 5 streamers

operating: about 75, mainly FW

By 30 Sept. 1885 Season finished on Maine coast

(steamer whaling)-season’s

catch ca. 100; humpback described

as main target,

yielding 20-30 bbl

1885 Whaling station established on

Greene’s Island, Maine,

by Gen. Davis Tilson and Maj. W. S.

White of Rockland

20 Feb. 1886 Began whaling season

Mid March 1886 left to cruise for whales in Bay

of Fundy; Capt. Murray

By 10 Apr. 1886 Towed to Richardson’s Factory; Capt. Murray

Mid March 1886 Whales said to be “scare” between

Nantucket and Monhega

Ca. 27 May 1886 Capt. Murray

Late May/early Towed to Linekin (Gallup’s Factory

June 1886 under Horace R. Tewksbury)

June 1886 Cruising between Eastport and Cap Cod;

Many that are shot and sink in deep water

are not recovered” (True)

Before 20 June 1886 For exhibit in Bangor, ME; Luther


Before 10 July 1886 “… the sharks have fed on most of them”

1886 125 bbl oil; 1,500-2,000 lb baleen;

at Nantucket and Tuckernuck

10 July 1887 Near Wauwinet, Mass.; probably a minke

1887 Provincetown; male; 47 ft, 70 bbl oil

1887 Delivered to Provincetown oil works;

probably FW and HB

1887 Delivered to Provincetown oil works;

probably FW and HB

20 Apr. 1888 UN (possibly FW) chased by Nantucket whalers

20 May 1888 Massachusetts Bay, combined 170 bbl oil

May 1888 Provincetown; whale found dead on

Georges Bank; 50 ft

1 June 1888 Cow-calf pair bomb-lanced near

Provincetown; cow 55-60 ft,

100 bbl oil, 1,500 lb baleen; calf sank

5 June 1888 Large; sank

1 May 1890 Found floating and towed to Lynn, Mass

12 Sept. 1894 Off the ‘Gully’; Capt. E.W.

Smith of Provincetown

Late Sept. 1894

Late Mar. 1895 Initially escaped towing gear; off

Nahant; found dead at sea

N of Provincetown; 42 ft, 50-60

bbl oil, 5.5 ft baleen

12 Apr. 1895 Massachusetts Bay; Capt. E.W.

Smith of Provincetown

12 Apr.-16 May 1895 Delivered to oil at Herring cove,

Provincetown (Joshua G. Nickerson,


1895 Capt. Fuller; embalmed and exhibited

(in Boston?); species identification

Early May 1895

1895 Capt. E.W. Smith of Provincetown; struck/

lost at Provincetown

Before 23 Apr. 1896

23 Apr. 1896 Off Cape Cod

Late Sept. 1896 Stranded at Nantasket Beach, Mass

thought to have been shot by whalers

15 Jan. 1909 11-m female entangle in fish-trap,

killed with bomb lance

Date (1) Sources

Apr. 1880 Allen, 1916:134**

ca. 1805-10 Clark, 1877b:235*; Allen,1916:312

1810-34 Clark, 1877a:41

1831 Starbuck, 1924:422*

1814 Starbuck, 1924:422*

27-29 Sept. 1815 Starbuck, 1924:424-425*

Early May 1822 Allen, 1916:134-135; Nantucket


Early Aug. 1827 Allen, 1916:312

5 July 1834 Allen, 1916:208

11 Apr. 1835 New-Bedford Mercury

1835-40 Clark, 1887a:41

20 May 1836 Allen, 1916:208

1841-60 Clark, 1887a:41

1840-60 Clark, 1887a:40

11 May 1843 Allen, 1916:135**

July 1844 Allen, 1916:313

1845 Clark, 1887a:41

10 Dec. 1846 Allen, 1916:208

Oct. 1846 American, 1895

Mid Apr. 1848 Allen, 1916:136**

Late Jan.-early Feb. 1850 Allen, 1916:136**

Nov. 1850 Allen, 1916:136; Clark, 1887a:41

Goode, 1884:24**

1850 Starbuck, 1878:473*

1850 Whalemen’s Shipping List

1852 Allen,1916:307, 309, 314*

1852 Allen, 1916:314*

1852 Allen, 1916:314*

Early Oct. 1852 Allen, 1916:136, 314*

Mid May 1852 Allen, 1916:136**

Oct. 1852 Allen, 1916:275

1853 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

Apr. 1853 Allen, 1916:136-137**

6 July 1854 Allen, 1916:208

11 Dec. 1854 Allen, 1916:137; Nantucket

Inquirer, Whalemen’s Shipping


17 Nov. 1855 Allen, 1916:208

20 Aug. 1856 Allen, 1916:275

1857 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

15 Apr. 1857 Allen, 1916:209

1858 Allen, 1916:276

Late Nov. 1858 Allen, 1916:137**

1859 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

17-24 Mar. 1860 Whalemen’s Shipping List**

25 July-Early Nov. 1861 Clark, 1887a:41 Starbuck, 1924:481*

1861 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

Aug. 1863 Belfast Republican Journal,

August 1863 (fide John Arrison,

personal commun. to RLW)

Apr. 1864 Allen, 1916:118, 137,171;

Allen, 1908:322**

1866 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

1867-84 Goode, 1884:24**

1867 Goode, 1884:24**

25 Oct. 1868 Allen, 1916:209

Autumn 1868 Allen, 1916:209

1870 Clark, 1887a:41

1 Mar. 1870 Allen, 1916:137**

20 Oct. 1870 Clark, 1887a:41; Allen, 1916:209

Oct. 1871 Allen, 1916:209

10 Dec. 1872 Allen, 1916:210

23 Oct. 1874 Allen, 1916:210

1875 Allen, 1916314*

1878 Allen, 1916:308; True, 1904:232*

1878 Norton, 1930:94-95*

Spring 1879 Allen, 1916:308, 314; Goode,

1884:27; True, 1904:232*

By 1 Oct. 1879 Goode, 1884:27*; Clark, 1887a:22;

Allen, 1916:314; Webb, 2001

Spring 1880 Clark, 1887a:40; Allen, 1916L:308,


May 1880 Webb, 2001; Daily Times, 1880

1880 Clark, 1887a:42*

Spring 1880 Clark, 1887a:41; True, 1904:63-64

Mar.-mid May 1880 Clark, 1887a:41-42

10-15 June 1880 Clark, 1887a:42

1881 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

1881 Whalemen’s Shipping List*

1881 Goode, 1884:27 Allen, 1916:308,

314; see Whalemen’s Shipping

List for a different account*

1883 Webb, 2001; Daily Times, 1884

Early Mar.-April 1884 Allen, 1916:212-213

Before 22 July 1884 Webb, 2001; Daily Times, 1884; Register,

1884a, 1884b, 1884c

Ca. 10 Feb.-13 Mar. Daily Times, 1885a, Register,

1885 1885a, 1885b, 1885c; True, 1904: 64

13 Mar.-28 Apr. 1885 Webb, 2001; Register, 1885d;

Daily Times, 1885b

Mar.-Apr. 1885 True, 1904:64

Late Apr. 1885 Daily Times, 1885b; Register,


May 1885 Webb, 2001; Register, 1885f

June 1885 Register, 1885g

Ca. mid June 1885 Register, 1885h

Before 7 July 1885 Allen, 1916:229; Webb, 2001

20 May 1885 Daily Times, 1885c

Mid to late May 1885 Daily Times, 1885d

3 July 1885 Allen, 1916:229

7 July 1885 Allen, 1916:213, 229

Early-mid July 1885 Register, 1885i

1885 Allen, 1916:229; True, 1904:65

By 30 Sept. 1885 Daily Times, 1885e

1885 Calderwood, 1972:89-94

20 Feb. 1886 Daily Times, 1886a; Webb, 2001

Mid March 1886 Register, 1886a

By 10 Apr. 1886 Register, 1886b

Mid March 1886 Register, 1886c

Ca. 27 May 1886 Register, 1886d

Late May/early Daily Times, 1886b; Register,

June 1886 1886e

June 1886 Allen, 1916:213-214; Webb, 2001;

Register, 1886f; True, 1904:64

Before 20 June 1886 Webb, 2001; Daily Times, 1886c

Before 10 July 1886 Register, 1886g

1886 Allen, 1916:126-128, 138, 171;

Whalemen’s Shipping List; Stackpole,


10 July 1887 Allen, 1916:276-277

1887 Allen, 1916:138**

1887 Allen, 1916:230

1887 Allen, 1916:230

20 Apr. 1888 Allen, 1916:214

20 May 1888 Allen, 1916:138-139; Whalemen’s

Shipping List**

May 1888 Allen, 1916:139; Whalemen’s

Shipping List**

1 June 1888 Allen, 1916:130-131, 139, 143, 171;

Whalemen’s Shipping List**

5 June 1888 Allen, 1916:214, 229-230

1 May 1890 Allen, 1916:214, 230

12 Sept. 1894 Allen, 1916:214, 230

Late Sept. 1894 Allen, 1916:214

Late Mar. 1895 Allen, 1916:120, 139; True, 1904:


12 Apr. 1895 Allen, 1916:214, 230

12 Apr.-16 May 1895 Allen, 1916:214, 230; Webb, 2001

(from Nantucket Journal)

1895 Allen, 1916:230; Webb, 2001

Early May 1895 Allen, 1916:214

1895 Allen, 1916:308, 315*

Before 23 Apr. 1896 Allen, 1916:230; Webb, 2001

23 Apr. 1896 Allen, 1916:215

Late Sept. 1896 Allen, 1916:230

15 Jan. 1909 Allen, 1916:119, 140**

(1) “By” a certain date indicates authors’ judgment that

information refers to what transpired in this season to the

given date.

(2) Parenthesis indicate author’ judgment that this record

is subsumed within another.


Our thanks to Richard Merrick, Fred Serchuk, Jeff Breiwick, and Willis Hobart, all of whom provided useful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Beth Josephson prepared the map and assisted in various other ways with manuscript preparation.

(1) CETAP 1982. A characterization of marine mammals and turtles in the mid- and north Atlantic areas of the U.S. outer continental shelf. Final report of the Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I., to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C. Contract AA551-CT8-48, 450 p.

(2) Liebow, Charles. February 2002. Southwest Harbor. Maine. Personal commun. via R. L. Webb.

(3) Kelley, Harvey. February 2002. Tremont, Maine. Personal commun. via R. L. Webb.

(4) Logbook of the schooner Franklin of New Bedford, James F. Avery, Master. 9 October 1883-24 August 1885. Kendall Institute, New Bedford Whaling Museum. New Bedford, Mass.

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Baraff, L. S., and M. T. Weinrich. 1993. Separation of humpback whale mothers and calves on a feeding ground in early autumn. Mar. Mammal Sci. 9:431-434.

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Randall Reeves ( is with Okapi Wildlife Associates, Hudson, Quebec J0P IH0, Canada. Tim Smith and Phil Clapham are with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center. National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Woods Hole. MA 02543. Robert Webb is with Richmond Webb Associates, P.O. Box 356, Phippsburg, ME 04562. Jooke Robbins is with the Center for Coastal Studies, Provincetown, MA 02657.

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