American Whale Tales, 1880 September 10 2015

American whaling peaked in 1858, but it still found a place on this 1880 fisheries chart. That year, though whaling was still a lucrative business in Massachusetts, a paltry $408 worth of whaling was done in North Carolina.

The chart also includes a neat world map of whaling grounds.

Some fun facts about whaling:

  • Nineteenth century whalers only got paid for their catch (called the "lay") so every voyage was a complete gamble. Ships that returned to port less than full were called "broken voyages."
  • Herman Melville was inspired to write Moby Dick by a horrific true story about a ship that was attacked by a sperm whale.
  • Whales can live to be really old. In fact, some whales who were alive when this chart was made in 1880 might still be swimming around somewhere.
  • The cutting away of a whale's blubber is called "flensing." Try that out the next time you're tempted to use the phrase "trim the fat." Your friends will be impressed.

Be sure to check out this fisheries chart and this other one too!