What is a Whale? Cetacean Value at the Bering Strait, 1848–1900


Bathsheba Demuth delves into the nutrient-rich waters of the Bering Strait, an environment ideal for bowhead whales that have nourished the Yupik, Chukchi, and Iñupiat peoples of far-eastern Siberia and northwest Alaska, where the whale was considered the staff of life providing food, fuel, and even shelter. From the mid-nineteenth century onward, this region fell into the global whaling economy when whalers from New England started harvesting the bowhead whales at an alarming rate. Demuth contrasts these competing views of what a whale was and what was its corresponding value.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/9178