Cutting up a whale, early 20th century

Cutting up a whale, early 20th century

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Credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Cutting up a whale. Whalers cutting up a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in Alaska, USA, in the early 20th century. The waters around Alaska and the Pacific coast of Canada are abundant in whales. The smaller whales were hunted by the native population, but it wasn't until modern whaling reached Alaska in the late 19th century that the larger whales, such as the blue whale, were also successfully hunted. The whales were hunted for their oil and blubber (fat layer, being removed here), which were processed for use in many commercial products. Whale hunting reached a peak in the early 20th century, with up to 40,000 whales killed per year. Fears of extinction led to international regulation of whaling from 1931. Photographed between 1900 and 1930.

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