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Iberian whaling history

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Offline Clive

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« on: May 26, 2007, 17:41 PM »
The topic on whaling  has spilt into two (1. for/againist 2, history of) - so I thought I'd start this new thread and move over some of the other threads to here. Old thread is here http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php?topic=373.0

Nick




Hola,

and to whet your appetites find out who was responsible for this....

Quote
His dedication has never wavered. He has hunted down, rammed and sank pirate whaler boats. He engineered in the scuttling of half the Spanish whaling ships in the eighties and organised an attack on the illegal whaling industry among many other successful direct actions. His compassionate credentials are impeccable. Environmentalists love him. His opponents hate him.

Clive
« Last Edit: May 31, 2007, 13:21 PM by Wildside »
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Offline SueMac

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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2007, 19:02 PM »
Dear All
Courtesy of Encarta - Early History of whaling


Early written records suggest that organized, commercial whaling may have begun in the 900s in western Europe. By the 1100s, whaling for the North Atlantic right whale in the Bay of Biscay was one of the principal industries of the predominantly Basque provinces of Spain and France. This whale species was known as the right whale because whalers considered it the “right” whale to catch. The right whale was slow-swimming, rich in blubber and baleen, and it floated when dead, making it easy to recover. Although annual catches were never large, they were sufficient to deplete the small number of right whales in the Bay of Biscay. This led the Basques to other North Atlantic waters, including those off Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and the island chain of Spitsbergen (present-day Svalbard). The Basques had certainly reached Newfoundland by 1550, and there is evidence to suggest they may have been there much earlier. The bowhead whale, a type of right whale similar to the North Atlantic or Northern right whale but with a more northerly distribution, became the mainstay of the industry in the North Atlantic by the late 1600s.

Spitsbergen, known previously to the Norwegians and rediscovered in 1596 by the Dutch navigator Willem Barents, became the center of English and Dutch whaling during the 1600s. The English may have been led there by the Basques because many English vessels had Basque crews. When whales became scarce off Spitsbergen around 1710, the industry shifted to Greenland and the Davis Strait. The latter grounds were also nearly depleted by the 1800s. By the beginning of the 1700s, European whaling was beginning to decline, and American or “Yankee” whaling was in the ascendancy. Whaling for right and bowhead whales was relatively wasteful, the main products being blubber and baleen. The meat and other organs were not used.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2007, 12:16 PM by nick »
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Offline Tore

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« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2007, 21:00 PM »
Apologies to Mike, Dave and Clive..
The idea of this thread (which actually kicked off with a short reference to the cetaceans found off the Iberian coast), was just to illustrate that hunting can also be justified, in that some populations (in this case whales) were suffering due to overpopulation (or lack of food, depending on your view). Anyway this is a never ending discussion topic, so I'll leave it there.
Some good responses and follow up though, so thanks to all.
Cheers
Tore
Tore

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2007, 22:44 PM »
Greetings Clive and All,
I know who he is  ;) and you know who he is ...
Regs.
Technopat  >:D

Ps.
I remember reading a couple of years back that Spanish ships were still nabbing the odd whale, but I can't recall the context nor exact details of where and what species.
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2007, 00:56 AM »
Greetings All,

Sorry folks! It wasn't all that recent - when you reach my age, time becomes very relative. As I said, I remember reading it a while back, but it was already stale news by then:

1978: El "Rainbow Warrior" se enfrenta a balleneros españoles frente a la costa de España.

1980: El "Rainbow Warrior" es arrestado por la armada española cuando evitaba que barcos balleneros españoles persiguieran ballenas. Las autoridades españolas quitan una parte vital del sistema de propulsión del barco y lo ponen bajo guardia armada.

(From http://www.greenpeace.org/mexico/campaigns/oceanos/ballenas/greenpeace-y-las-ballenas)

On the other hand,
http://waste.ideal.es/cetaceos.htm  gives the following info. re. cetáceos on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Spain (and Portugal?):
Nombre comun-Nombre científico-talla-peso-población-problematica-estado

Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2007, 11:56 AM »
Greetings All,
Bit more on Spain's recent (?) whaling history for Clive and which directly mentions you-know-who. The full article is only for subscribers:

>PUBLICACION: Edición Impresa - EL PAÍS
>SECCIÓN / ÁREA: Sociedad
>FECHA: 22 - 05 - 1980
Green Peace niega su participación en el hundimiento de dos balleneros gallegos
Jesus de las Heras -
Remy Parmentier, director en Francia de la organización ecologista Green Peace (Paz Verde), negó ayer en Madrid la participación, y, por tanto, responsabilidad de su organización, en el hundimiento de dos balleneros españoles el pasado mes de abril. Señaló también que el canadiense Paul Watson, a quien las informaciones publicadas señalaron como presunto autor del atentado, no es, como se "dijo, director de Green Peace, sino de la asociación norteamericana denominada Fondo para los Animales.


But I'm sure there's summat much more recent - it'll come to me.
Regs.
Technopat

Ps.
Sorry! Forgot to add the link - but it's useless unless you have subs. 'cos it only contains the above text.
http://www.elpais.com/articulo/sociedad/GREENPEACE/PRESIDENCIA_DEL_GOBIERNO_1979-1982/Green/Peace/niega/participacion/hundimiento/balleneros/gallegos/elpepisoc/19800522elpepisoc_1/Tes/
« Last Edit: May 29, 2007, 15:41 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2007, 12:06 PM »
Greetings All,
Here's a doc. from the Sociedad de Amigos del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales - CSIC:

Ballena de los vascos – Eubalaena glacialis (Müller, 1776)

http://www.vertebradosibericos.org/mamiferos/pdf/eubgla.pdf

(originally published a couple of years back but updated this month)
Regs.
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Clive

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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2007, 16:27 PM »
Hola,

Someone has just told me that down on the Tarifa coast around the bay of Algecirus there is an abandoned and derelict whale processing factory.

I guess that must mean that they were catching whales in the straits of Gibralatar area and hauling them back to shore...I can't find out what species were hunted though...

Clive
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Offline SueMac

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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2007, 17:48 PM »
Dear Clive
The following reference will give you a fair idea:

Alex Aguilar, Assumpció Borrell (2007)
OPEN-BOAT WHALING ON THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR GROUND AND ADJACENT WATERS
Marine Mammal Science 23 (2), 322–342.The abstract states that the target was sperm whales but others were brought up as well.
SueMac
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2007, 18:12 PM »
Hola,

Heres the link for Suemacs offering

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-7692.2007.00111.x

Hey, Nick...Do you have any contacts with the guys who wrote this at Barcelona Uni?

Clive
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

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Offline nick

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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2007, 10:53 AM »
Good link Clive. Unfortunately don't know him.

Somebody I know has a huge whale bone as the centrepiece to the living room of her house. I can't remember the story very well but I think one of the old buildings on the beach they demolished for Barcelona's Olympic Village had been a whaling factory. It was long abandoned, but was still full of whale bones. As the finding spread, these rapidly disappeared

I thought you might be interested in this short piece which my mate Sergi wrote for La Vanguardia last year

Quote
Ballenas, las del Maresme
A 20 millas de Mataró pueden avistarse las que remontan la costa catalana

Los científicos creen que existe un rorcual propio del Mediterráneo

SERGI GARCIA - 28/05/2006


Creo que nadie medianamente interesando por su entorno se quedaría indiferente ante la posibilidad de poder ver ballenas surcando los mares. Siendo así, no es de extrañar que cada vez sean más las ofertas turísticas para verlas. Contemplar ballenas francas saltando a plomo en las aguas de la península de Valdés, en Argentina; contemplar ballenas azules en el mar también azul de Cortez, en México; o Narvales, verdaderos unicornios, en las aguas remotas del estrecho de Davis, en Groenlandia, son experiencias fantásticas al alcance de pocos. No obstante, no es imposible ver ballenas en un destino cercano y, según cómo se mire, más modesto. Con este propósito, muchos se enrolan en una excursión que desde Port Balís, junto a Mataró (el Maresme), organiza la asociación Galanthus para intentar ver esos mamíferos, antaño considerados monstruos marinos.

Diezmadas por el abuso de su caza, cuyo objetivo era el preciado aceite, con que se iluminaron los hogares de medio mundo, la mayoría de sus poblaciones entraron en barrena entre los siglos XIX y XX. La irrupción del petróleo como combustible mejor y más barato y, más tarde, la conciencia ambiental surgida durante la segunda mitad del siglo pasado, que adoptó a las ballenas como uno de los iconos de la conservación y protección de los animales, facilitaron el acuerdo internacional que dio lugar a una moratoria de su explotación, urbi et orbi, vigente desde 1986. Aunque algunos países, como Noruega, Japón o Islandia, se la salten, y sigan cazando actualmente ballenas bajo pretextos científicos, que mal que bien disfrazan el verdadero objetivo comercial, las ballenas parece que van levantando un poco la cabeza.

España ha sido un país ballenero. En la Costa da Morte, Galicia, funcionó hasta mediados de los años 80 una pesquería con unas cuotas de captura nada desdeñables. En 1979 se llegaron a cobrar 465 rorcuales comunes (Balaenoptera Physalus),una nadería si se compara con los 725.000 individuos que se mataron sólo en el hemisferio sur a lo largo del siglo XX.

El buque zarpa al alba, pues esperan varias horas de navegación mar adentro. El patrón, Josep, pone a su tripulación al corriente. El rorcual común es el segundo animal más grande del mundo, por detrás de la ballena azul. Es una esbelta ballena que nada con rapidez, puede llegar a medir unos 25 metros y pesar 120 toneladas, ahí es nada; las del Mediterráneo no son tan grandes, y suelen pesar en torno a las 55 toneladas. Tienen el dorso gris oscuro y la parte ventral es blanca o de tonos claros. El rostro es alargado y presenta una pigmentación asimétrica en el labio inferior que lo hace inconfundible: en el lado izquierdo es negra y en el derecho blanca. Todavía no se ha explicado satisfactoriamente a qué responde este rasgo.

Sus crías al nacer miden entre seis y seis metros y medio, y pesan entre 1.800 y 2.700 Kg. Se alimenta de pequeños crustáceos y peces, que captura abriendo su formidable bocaza, tragando el banco de presas y expulsando el agua que filtra a través de sus barbas, láminas de córneas que cuelgan de la mandíbula superior, dispuestas como las púas deun peine. No tienen dientes.

Se creía que todos los rorcuales que se veían en el Mediterráneo entraban del Atlántico por el Estrecho. Sin embargo, todo parece indicar que cierto contingente mediterráneo constituye una población genéticamente aislada, incluso con algunas características propias. Esta población pasaría el invierno en el norte de África y el verano en el mar de Liguria. Cada primavera, entre finales de marzo y mediados de junio, emprenden una migración cuya ruta transcurre paralela a la costa de la Península Ibérica; se cree que el retorno otoñal se efectúa por aguas cercanas a la península itálica. Nos hace notar Josep que, cada cierto tiempo, pero siempre en los meses de primavera, aparece algún que otro rorcual muerto cuyo cadáver acaba casi invariablemente amarrado a un muelle del puerto de Barcelona.

Lejos de una costa de cemento
Mientras el sol se levanta, en un mar amablemente calmado, el buque deja atrás el muro de cemento que es ahora la costa; aquí y allá van apareciendo pequeños grupos de jóvenes frailecillos, preparándose para su larga migración; este pájaro marino, con el pico coloreado a rayas, nidifica en los acantilados del Atlántico norte en madrigueras, como los conejos. También aparece un pequeño grupo de acrobáticos delfines listados, cetáceo que padeció un episodio de mortandad masiva entre los años 1990 y 1992, causado por una epizootia que redujo notablemente sus poblaciones. Parece ser que más de mil individuos murieron por esa causa.

El patrón habla de los agravios que padecen éstos y otros cetáceos del Mare Nostrum: contaminación, extenuación de caladeros, deterioro de litoral... Nuestro pequeño mar es delicado y vulnerable. Un parásito, un ave similar a las gaviotas, pero con aviesos instintos corsarios, surca el cielo con determinación, en busca quizá de alguna víctima a quien usurpar el almuerzo.

El patrón deja el barco al pairo, y el mar parece que se terse. Si los tripulantes fuéramos gavieros, nos agolparíamos en lo más alto del palo mayor para hacernos acreedores de la onza de oro que prometió el capitán Ahab al primero que distinguiera a la temida Moby Dick. Tensa calma. De pronto, una columna de espuma brota de en medio de la nada, un surtidor de cuatro a seis metros de altura. ¡A estribor!, ¡es una ballena!, el patrón decide navegar a motor y seguir la estela que, cada vez más lejana, deja el gran mamífero. Inútil, es fenomenalmente veloz, no en vano la llaman el galgo de los mares. Sin embargo, en un golpe de suerte, el animal decide darse la vuelta y nadar en nuestra dirección.

Ante la visión del leviatán que se acerca, uno se dejas invadir por una mezcla de temor y excitación. De pronto, se pone de costado, sacando del agua toda una aleta pectoral. Se está alimentando, precisa Joseph, quien apaga motores y hace navegar el barco a vela, en silencio. El rorcual pasa cercano, ignora al barco, o lo parece; es probable que ni sienta curiosidad por su presencia, o quizá es que nuestro mundo ya ha dejado de ser el suyo.

Está tan próxima, que su soplo renovado resuena con una intensidad sobrenatural. Debe de medir unos 18 metros, estima el patrón, es evidente que es más larga que el barco. La ballena vuelve a girar y continúa su singladura hacia el norte del Mediterráneo. Siendo como es una de las ballenas más rápidas, llegando a alcanzar velocidades próximas a los 50 Km/ h, en un día o día y medio ya estará donde quiera ir, y acaso nadie la vuelva a ver nunca más.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 10:57 AM by nick »
Nick
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2007, 19:23 PM »
Hola,

Any chance of a translation to English for those of us that struggle with the bigger words and concepts  ;D

Clive
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

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Offline SueMac

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« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2007, 20:01 PM »
Dear All
I am afraid I am being a little tetchy with the boys again. 
I am  reposting this as I realise that it wasnt in the right section. Thought I would point out that I made a number of "offerings "which on the whole  were ignored.  The tracking down was my work and I am sorry that I didnt post the reference properly Nick but sometimes a little more is needewd for mere mortals like me.

" Not sure what bit of history you are talking about - 20 century or earlier? because as I have shown it is out there.
 I think the important thing is like many other cultures which hunted or fished they took what was needed. Overfishing for commercial profits or barbaric killing of creatures and I include killing rabbits, cats dogs being skinned alive is something else and trophy killings - well words fail me. And then what (wo)man does to(wo) man...............

I find the whole issue so immense my poor head goes into free spin.  Then the only way I can cope is by doing my little bit and be glad there is someone else out there who is doing their little bit whether it is on the Iberian peninsula, in Tasmania or in mental health institutions.

Tetchy SueMac
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2007, 20:36 PM »
Hola,

Why Tetchy SueMac? This is not a tetchy forum..... ;D

I read your encarta post with interest and followed up your link to the Alex Aguila information from Barcelona Uni....I posted the correct link so others could read the information that you found...

For this thread to continue it needs information about the history of whaling practices in Spain. The time scale is not really important but I in particular am interested in how the coastal living people caught and processed whales...from distant past through to almost the present...

Nicks info about the old Whale processing factory in Barcelona is important because unless they transported the caught whales over land from the bay of Biscay they must have been catching them in the Med...

There are not many whale sightings in the Med right now.....

Clive

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The spectacular Caminito del Rey, El Chorro and Guadalhorce reservoirs El Camino del Rey

Offline nick

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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2007, 21:48 PM »
If I find time Clive, but translation takes a while, and as I do it for a living I try to avoid it when I can. Can I help with any specific bits?
« Last Edit: May 30, 2007, 23:26 PM by nick »
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
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http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2007, 23:03 PM »
Hola,

So from what I gather from Sergi's article, there is a sub species of fin whale that is genetically different from the other fin whales around the world that used to be in the Mediterranean. I guess that the bones Nick mentioned earlier were from Fin Whales then...

What we really need now is those boat people Roxy and Jill to tell us if they have ever seen any whales whilst they have been floating around out there in the blue yonder...

The IUCN list about fin whale is at http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/2478/all

Clive
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Offline nick

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« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2007, 23:27 PM »
That's right
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
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A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
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Offline nick

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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2007, 00:12 AM »
Fin whales are regularly seen off the Catalan coast in spring. I almost went last year on a trip but it got cancelled because of bad weather. But I gather it's not like going to Scotland, Canada or indeed the Straights, where you're virtually guaranteed sightings.

Cheers
Nick

Clive, I'm getting out my scanner - I'd promised you something I believe!
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
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Offline nick

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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2007, 00:23 AM »
This is a bit from "The Basque History of the World" by Mark Kurlansky, an excellent if somewhat nationalistic portrait of that remarkable corner of the Iberian Peninsula. There's a big section on whaling, from which I leave you all:

Quote
An important feature of the Basque whale was that, like the sperm whale, but unlike many whale species, it floated when dead. The whale's back shone obsidian black in the water, though the belly was a brilliant white. Averaging about fifty to sixty feet in length, a quarter of which was the huge head, a single animal could weigh more than sixty tons. Such a whale would yield thirty tons of blubber, which could be cooked down to an oil valued for centuries as fuel. Most coastal Basque communities established facilities along their beaches for cooking down whale blubber. As with most things Basque, it is not certain when this oil trade began, but in 670, at the end of the age of the Visigoths, there was a documented sale in northern France by Basques from Labourd of forty pots of whale oil.
Whalebone was also valuable, especially the hundreds of teeth which were a particularly durable form of ivory. The tons of meat were a profitable food item. Whale meat had been eaten by the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians, who probably took beached whales since there is no record of commercial whaling. Romans also wrote of whale meat. Pliny wrote that eating whale meat was good for the teeth.
The first commercial whale hunters were the seventh- and eighth-century Basques, who found an eager market for this meat in Europe. Whale meat became a staple of the European diet partly because the Catholic Church forbade the eating of "redblooded" meat on holy days-about half the days on the calendar including every Friday-arguing that it was "hot," associated with sex, which was also forbidden on holy days. But meat that came from animals-or parts of animals-that were submerged in water, including whale, fish, and the tail of the beaver, was deemed "cold" and therefore permitted. So with the exception of beaver tails and the occasional seal or porpoise, whale was the one allowable red meat. The Basques became the great providers of this holy red meat. They sold the leaner meat fresh or preserved in salt. Fattier parts were cured like bacon. In Paris, where these cuts were a Lenten specialty, they were known as craspois. Tongues, fresh or salted, were regarded as a particular delicacy and served with peas. Being the choicest part, the only good part, according to some medieval writers, whale tongues were often demanded by local church or government officials as tribute. The port of Bayonne jealously guarded its monopoly on the tongue trade.
In the seventh century, the Basques, no longer content to ...

I guess it would be cheeky of me to scan in any more so you'll have to buy the book!
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita

Offline nick

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« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2007, 00:26 AM »
but here's another bit anyway,

Quote
In the seventh century, the Basques, no longer content to await for ailing whales to beach themselves, built stone whalespotting towers along the coast from Bilbao to Bayonne, manning them between October and March. One still remains on a mountaintop near San Sebastian and another in Guethary in Labourd. The whale's undoing was the fact that it is a lunged mammal and must rise to the surface to breathe. When it does, a tall column of vapor is released. Spotting the spout of an approaching whale off the coastline, the lookout in the tower would let out a prolonged yell. His shouts were actually coded signals that told whalers the exact type of whale sighted, and whether it was a single whale or in a group. Five oarsmen, a captain, and a harpooner would then row out in a lightweight vessel.
The oarsmen would row as silently as possible, muffling the oars in their locks and even the oar blades in the water with oiled cloth. Then, having sneaked up on the unsuspecting giant foundering along the coast, they would strike suddenly with wooden-handled spears and harpoons. The oarsmen had to row, close enough to the whale for the harpooner to plant the har•
goon deeply into the body just below the head. Harpooning became the trade of the largest, strongest men. After harpooning the whale, the oarsmen had to row furiously in reverse, turning a fast circle, for an enraged whale could kill a dozen men with a flick of its huge tail. Or, instead of turning on its attackers, the whale might try to dive to the safety of great depths, dragging men and boats with it. The whale would dive with harpoon, line, and buoys until, out of breath, it had to furiously resurface, only to be harpooned again. The process was repeated numerous times until the whale spouted blood and died or the whalers capsized and drowned. Sometimes the boat and fishermen would just sink under the weight of the wet ropes.
By the late thirteenth century, whales marked the town seals of Bermeo and Fuenterrabia. Among the other towns that included whales in their town seals were Biarritz, Hendaye, Guetaria, Motrico, and Lequeitio. Not only did these towns keep the whale on their seals, but, from the use of whaling launches, they developed an early and enduring passion for rowing regattas.
Nick
http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/
Spanish Civil War Tours in Barcelona
http://www.iberianature.com/
A guide to the environment, climate, wildlife, & nature of Spain
The Amazon/Forum Bookshop - lend us a hand
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/shop/index.htm
And also now The Natural History of Britain
http://iberianature.com/brita