Monthly Archives: March 2017


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.

Nina Vieira summarized her research:

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,


Kleinste pot vis wordt Bruinvis

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) wrongly identified as dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima).

Tekst: Diederik D’ Hert en David ‘Billy’ Herman

416 pilot whales stranded (February 2017)


416 whales stranded at Farewell Spit near Nelson, with about 75 per cent dying before rescue efforts could start.
10th February 2017 New Zealand Herald photo by Tim Cuff

416 pilot whales stranded near the base of Farewell Spit, Golden Bay, New Zealand, of which 250 to 300 were already dead when the whales were discovered early in the morning on February 10th, 2017. (NZ Herald) The stranding is New Zealand’s third biggest on record. Attempts were undertaken to refloat the remaining whales at the morning high tide. However,  240 more whales arrived on Saturday February, 11th, 2017. “The 240-odd whales that had stranded between Puponga and Pakawau late on Saturday have mostly refloated themselves on last night’s high tide (…),” conservation spokesman Herb Christophers said according to BBC news.  Seventeen of those whales which remained stranded were refloated by rescuers and volunteers. “Whale strandings have been a common occurrence throughout history on Farewell Spit. On 15 November 2012, a pod of pilot whales stranded themselves on the spit, around two kilometres north-east from the Spit Cafe. Eleven were found dead on the first day. The spit has claimed around 680 Whales since records began. In January 2014 several whales stranded and re-stranded. This included a pod of 50 pilot whales, many of whom died from stress or needed to be euthanised despite several attempts to refloat them.In February 2015, pilot whales were found stranded on Farewell Spit.  (Wikipedia)


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