Today Norway is one of only three whaling nations in the world, but the country’s whaling operations used to be worldwide. Dag Ingemar Børresen of Sandefjord’s Whaling Museum (Hvalfangstmuseet) on Norway’s whaling history and the market for Minke meat.

“I guess…Norwegians are not very…. I mean it was just….  a whale.  I don’t think Norwegians have this sort of emotional connection with the whales at all..”

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The Killer Whale Who Changed the World…. ….

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Show Notes:

  • Dag introduces himself and talks about the purpose of the museum. [3:36]
  • Today’s Minke-hunting scene and Norway’s history — whales used to be hunted for oil, now they’re hunted for their meat. [5:30]
  • The museum’s major exhibits. [8:53]
  • The Norwegian term for killer whale is “blubber chopper” because killer whales eat other whales. [10:00]
  • Connections to Canada. [11:00]
  • The world of the Whaling Museum [12:00]
  • Questions kids ask. [13:15]
  • Dag talks about the first time he saw a whale — in Africa. [14:30]
  • The timeline and global reach of the old-time Norwegian whaling industry. [15:45]
  • The lack of local interest in the whaling industry. [18:00]
  • Upcoming changes to the Museum and how technology affected whaling. [22:00]
  • Blue whales were near extinction, and still hunted even though whalers knew that the industry was unsustainable.  Whaling was a short term strategy to make money. (23:00)
  • Whale world-views. Norwegians aren’t emotionally invested in whales. [24:00]
  • The whaling tradition in Norway likely goes back thousands of years — whale petroglyphs. [25:00]
  • And much more….

Significant quotes:

“It’s impossible to compare the Norwegian whaling industry as it was with the whaling today.” [4:50]

“Around 1930, there was about 10,000 Norwegian whalers going to the antarctic every year.  They hunted down ten thousands of whales each catching season. The whaling today is just nearly nothing.  It’s just a few fishermen catching minke whales.  It’s just a few hundred minke whales a year. ”  [5:50]

“If you talk to old whalers, you can get, they probably have some stories about killer whales, but it is often related to killer whales who were attacking dead whales who were caught by the whale catchers. [10:00]

“Up to the late 1920s [the Norwegian whaling industry] was global.” [15:45]

“I don’t know anyone today who eats whale meat.” [17:50]

“Why should we eat whale meat?  There are so many other things to eat, I don’t know really.” [18:00]

“Is it a big deal? No, it’s not a big deal at all. No one cares at all. It’s just a few fishermen up north.  If you ask Norwegians they’re not engaged in anything that you’re asking about, really.  It’s only politics, isn’t it.” [18:15]

“We’re going to focus a lot on the blue whale and the story of the blue whale, how it was nearly extinct at the end of modern whaling.  It was very close, you know, very close.  So it’s a really horrible story.  

“And of course also because they knew fifty years earlier that they had to stop whaling if it was going to be sustainable…if they wanted it to be sustainable.  So they were quite clear about what they were doing, but they didn’t stop it.” [22:00]

“It was very short-term. They took what they could and then it ended.” [22:50]

About Keiko “I don’t know if anyone cared about it at all.  I guess…Norwegians are not very…. I mean it was just….  a whale.  I don’t think Norwegians have this sort of emotional connection with the whales at all.”  [24:00]


Relevant News stories from podcast (news/video):

  1. Norwegian Minke Whaling in 2017
  2. Globe and Mail on Keiko’s Death
  3. National Geographic on Norwegian Whaling
  4. The Maritime Executive on the Norwegian Whaling Industry
  5. Norwegian Documentary on Whaling: The Battle of Agony (subtitles available)
  6. 100th Anniversary of Hvalfangstmuseet
  7. KOLONITID! Exhibition at University Museum in Bergen

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