domingo, 13 de setembro de 2009


Anglo-American ships dedicated to whale-catching in the Azorean seas since the 18th century. They recruited good crews in the atlantics islands. There were many the natives that ran away through this method, following the art of whale-fishing, and starting the migration flux, then to USA and Hawaii.
The zone evolving Azores, Madeira, Canaries and Cape Vert islands, named Macronesia, is considered the Atlantic area with the biggest concentration of cachalot, habitat for reproduction and growing, where they arrive between May and Juliet, migrating afterwards, in the winter, like in Azores, to South, probably straightforward to Cape Vert and Canaries, and to North until Iceland waters (1). Through this way, the whale fishing had also an important role in the economy of Galicia, Spain, mainly until the 19th century, in the season passage of these great mammiferous along its coast. In La Coruña, the annual whale celebrations are still very alive.
The cachalot is the biggest cetaceous with teeth, being possible to live about 65-70 years and reach the length of 21 metres, corresponding to a weight of 60-70 tones. In the last years of whale-fishing in Azores it did not went beyond 18, 5 metres.
The second phase of whale-fishing in Azores embodies the sedentariness of this activity by the islands population. (2)
On the very beginning of the 19th century the harbour of Horta, island of Faial, was the most important support scale to the whaler fleet. It had also a great movement in the goods deposit as the result of transfusing.
John Bass Dabney is the diplomatist who comes to establish the first USA Consulate in Azores, in 1806, also one of the first consular posts created by this country after 1776. He created immediately a commercial house specialized in wine and orange transaction, in goods transfer between seldom countries and cargo and passengers transportation to United States of America. (3)
In a short time the support to the whale–ships anchored in Horta harbour was also done by the firm Dabney and Sons (1806-1892), which economic activity enlarged fifty years later to cachalot-fishing and transformation.
(To be Continued)

Henrique Pinto

August 09

(1) Garcia, J.C., Semana dos Baleeiros, 1998
(2) Garcia, J.C., A Fábrica da Baleia de São Roque do Pico, 2008
(3) Goulart Costa, S., Azores, Nine Islands, One History, Institute of Governmental Studies Press, University of California, Berkeley, 2008

PHOTOS: from top to botton and from left to right side, 20 th century, ealy twenties, dead cachalots, Lages do Pico; John Bass Dabney, the firs USA Consular in Azores; wild flowers from Azores; early 19th century whale-fishing in North Galicia, Spain; touristic whale-whatching in Azores; map of Azores; whale cutting up, Lages do Pico; whale-watching, Azores;

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