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The New Bedford Whaling Museum

- Hannah

Trying to find an interesting and educational place to while away some time? Take a trip to New Bedford, a town near Cape Cod. This town is home to one of New England’s best whaling museums, home to six whale skeletons, multiple model ships including the biggest model ship in the world, ship logs, and fascinating relics of the whaling age.

The first thing you see upon entering the doors are two full gigantic whale skeletons. One is the world renown blue whale, found floating dead in the sea and left on a beach until the bones were mostly dry. The other is an impressive humpback, as well as a tiny blue whale calf, hanging from the ceiling.


The large blue whale is the most interesting in my opinion, as it is still dripping with the valuable oil that the whales were hunted for. It is estimated that this process will not be complete until the year 2060 before the oil has drained entirely from the skeleton into a small container. These whales are but a few of the skeletons located in the museum.

At the moment, the museum is having a special Moby Dick collection. This exhibition is quite interesting, and as the book was written at the peak of the whaling industry, it is quite accurate in its portrayal of the times. Many artists from New Bedford have donated  paintings relating to the story of the great white whale and the adventures involved in trying to capture it.


After all this, we are still left with one question. How do you kill a whale? This drama unfolds in a difficult, gruesome, and exhausting job. It often takes two hours to finish the hunt from the time the first harpoon is thrown into the whale. The harpoon is a long, barbed blade on the end of a pole. A rope is attached to it, and that rope is fastened to the boat. After the harpoon is thrown into the whale the cetacean rushes quickly away. It is the steersman’s job to make sure the whale does not dive, thus dragging the boat and all in it down to the bottom of the ocean. He does this by slowly winding in the rope. In the instances where the whale would pull the boat, it was called a New England Sleigh Ride. Well, there wasn’t any snow and you had to subtitute a boat for a sleigh, but you get the picture!

After nearing the whale again, a lance is thrust into it. The lance is the same as a harpoon, the only difference being the lack of rope. This process is continued until the whale dies, and a successful hunt is rejoiced on board the ship. Luckily, there are many environmental laws today prohibiting hunting for whales. The height of whaling in New England was in the 1800s.


The museum operates daily, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and until 8 P.M. every second Thursday of the month. Admission is reasonable, at $14 dollars for adults, and $6 dollars for children. Students are only $9, and Seniors are $12.


The New Bedford Whaling Museum is a fun and informative destination for teens and their families. It’s best to spend a day, as it’s easy to become so interested in the artifacts and stories there that tearing yourself away gets difficult!




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