The last whalers: commuting from the North Sea to Antarctica | Aeon Essays
In the mid-20th century, young men from #Shetland would come of age and travel to Edinburgh. ‘Quite a lot of Shetland boys did that,’ says Gibbie Fraser, who was that boy some 60 years ago. ‘And I remember goin’ and dere was a lot of men dere and dey all seemed huge and in dose days dey all wore … dere dress clothes as almost a uniform.’ For many, this would have been their first trip to the mainland, their first trip to ‘Scotland’ proper at all, and the boys would watch the double-decker buses for the first time, or board a black cab for the neighbourhood of Leith. There, they would stand in lines that snaked around city blocks.Shetlanders are some of the only living people who participated in Antarctic whaling. #Whaling in the Southern Ocean followed the devastation of whale stocks in the North Sea around #Britain, #Iceland and #Norway in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Whaling has been a foundation of Shetland’s economy for more than 300 years. It began with subsistence whaling, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then developed into large-scale #Arctic and #Greenland hunts in the mid-19th century. Salvesen began whaling in Shetland at Olna in 1904, when the company established a whaling station. ‘That’s where [they], I suppose in a way, came to appreciate the Shetland men,’ said Fraser.