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LETTER: Garden of Eden desecrated, defiled

Letters to the Editor.
Letters to the Editor.

The majority of whale oil consumed in Europe in the late sixteenth century was from whales slain in Canada; specifically the Sea of Whales; today, the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This history is detailed in Farley Mowat's book 'Sea of Slaughter'.

Spanish Basque and French Basque whalers believed that the 'better sort of whale', the right whale, had the following characteristics: a slow whale, easy to overtake in a rowed dory; a vulnerable whale, easy to kill with harpoons and lances; a whale which floated when killed, hence a whale with large amounts of blubber.

To the Basques, there were four species of 'right whales': Bowhead, Grey, Right, and Sperm whales. The Sperm whale is a toothed whale and the other three are baleen whales. By 1740 the 'right whales' where commercially exhausted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Basque practiced a form of coastal whaling where kilns called try-works were built on land to render blubber into oil. The try-works were fired by wood plus whale remains. If a whale was killed near a try-works then men in dories towed the whale to the try-works; otherwise small sailing ships flensed the whale at sea and sailed the blubber and baleen to the try-works.

When you view the past 500-year European history of habitat and species destruction in the Sea of Whales, the only things sustainable has been propaganda, war against nature and animal cruelty; a Garden of Eden desecrated and defiled.

Tony Lloyd,

Mount Stewart

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