Detail of still from early documentary film, first shown publicly in 1912. In the foreground is a killer whale (Orcinus orca) named Old Tom, swimming alongside a whaling boat that is being towed by a harpooned whale (out of frame to the right). A whale calf can be seen between Old Tom and the boat. The whalers were based in Eden, New South Wales, Australia. Wikimedia Commons.
This week, we're going a bit afield of the Hudson River for Media Monday.
Our November 3rd lecture, "The Orca-Human Bond: The True Story behind The Whaler’s Daughter" with author Jerry Mikorenda, covered the amazing history of cooperation between killer whales (orcas) and Indigenous people (and later European whalers) in Australia.
We'll have the lecture video up on our YouTube channel soon (some of our fall lectures are already up!), but in the meantime, you can enjoy this excerpt from the 2004 Australian documentary film, "Killers in Eden." Author Jerry Mikorenda said this documentary film was one of the inspirations for his YA novel, Whaler's Daughter.
We've previously discussed whaling in Australia with the song "The Wellerman." Whaling in Two-fold Bay Australia was particularly special because of a unique pod of orcas that assisted human whalers with capturing migrating baleen whales. The "Law of the Tongue" was that the orcas would get first dibs on the baleen whale carcasses, preferring to eat only the lips and the tongue. The human whalers could then haul the rest of the carcass ashore to harvest the blubber for whale oil and other products.
Sadly, as whaling continued, other more commercial whaling companies were less open to the idea of cooperating with the whales, and by the 20th century the pod had disappeared.
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