One of the poster presentations during the 1st. INTERNATIONAL MEETING HISTORIES OF NATURE AND ENVIRONMENTS: PERSPECTIVES AND DIALOGUES (March 15-17, 2017) focussed on early modern whaling in Brazil.
“ Marine animals and their products abound in the historical sources of the Portuguese Expansion, from marine shells to hippopotamus of the African coast, to the ox – fish of the Amazon or the whale throughout the Sea Ocean. From currency trading to butter and oil, those animals were soon seen as valuable resources to the Portuguese crown, not only in the establishment of the empire overseas as also within Atlantic trading dynamics. Some of them were part of the exotic world, used by natives and completely unknown to European eyes, as for instances the manatee, others were not new per se but their abundance was, as the whale. In the case of whaling in Brazilian waters – today known as breeding areas for some species – the commercial exploitation started at least in the beginning of the 17th century in numbers of captured animals that have not yet been determined. The activity was a royal monopoly from 1614 to 1801, and old practices of an indiscriminate hunt, as the killing of calves and females, are pointed as one of the major reasons for the decline of the activity success and profit. Some economic reports and memories, focused on the economic value of the whales, offer interesting insights to rebuild a trajectory of change towards whales use. Having as a starting point that the relation between whales and humans is marked by ambiguous perceptions since immemorial to present times, the study of whaling and the economic, cultural and scientific values of this animal can largely contribute to understand how marine environments and animals were interpreted and handled over time. Ultimately can also foment the discussion on how ecosystems, populations and species are being perceived nowadays and what are the impacts of the human dominance over nature.” (Text taken from Conference Book of Abstracts)
For more information contact : Nina Vieira, CHAM-FCSH, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa and Associação Para as Ciências do Mar. Portugal, firstname.lastname@example.org.