(Contributed by C. Williams and M. George)


The whaling industry in Dildo took place between 1970 and 1974. There were three whales that were hunted at that time: the Fin (or Finback) whale, primarily for meat; the Sperm whale, again mostly for meat; and the Right whale, mostly for oil. There was a ban on the Humpback and Blue whales, as they were considered endangered species.

In 1970, Japanese hunters came over to Dildo, Trinity Bay to hunt whales. They came from the World Wide Whaling Company of Tokyo in their own ship the Kella Maru, with a Norwegian gunner, Captain Bergen.

They hunted for whales 140 miles out of Trinity Bay in the Funk Island area. They were mainly after the Fin whale, which was up to 74 feet in length and averaged 1 ton per foot in weight.

When the whale surfaced the hunt would begin. The Captain had to be able to identify the type of whale before it was shot at. Also, the Fin whale had to be over 50 feet long.

When the whale was identified as good, it was then shot at with a 160-pound harpoon, which had a fully-rigged head that would explode when it hit the whale. When the whale was dead, it would sink to the bottom and then have to be winched back to the surface by its throat. It was then pumped full of air to float alongside. They would tie 3 to 4 whales to the side of the boat and then bring them back to Dildo for processing.

The meat would be used for pet food for the United States, the tail for food and the bones and blubber to make oil. The whale plant in South Dildo was owned and operated by H.B. Nickerson of Nova Scotia. The Japanese brought over their own men to train Newfoundlanders in the processing (or "flinching") of whales.

In 1974, whale hunting was banned and the hunters were compensated, some receiving up to $11,000. Today, whales are commercially hunted in Japan and Norway only.


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