Writer to Speak on Great Whale Slaughter

Dr. Peter Capelotti, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Penn State Abington will present an illustrated lecture titled, “The Whaling Expedition of the Ulysses 1937–38,” on Thursday, March 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater, New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Writer, editor and member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Dr. Capelotti will relate a remarkable turning point in early 20th century whaling. In the spring of 1937, U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Quentin Robert Walsh received a special assignment aboard the whaling factory ship, Ulysses: to monitor the commercial operation’s compliance with international agreements protecting marine life. This extraordinary adventure in which Walsh played diplomat, international inspector and military policeman permitted him to witness an unprecedented slaughter of whales. His report became the most detailed account on the actual hunting and killing of pelagic whales.

The Ulysses flew the American flag, but Walsh quickly realized that the venture was a foreign affair intent on harvesting whales of illegal size and importing the resulting whale oil duty-free into the U.S. market. This behemoth floating “factory” killed with appalling efficiency in order to reap tremendous profits. Over 3,600 whales were butchered during the ship’s ten-month cruise.

Dr. Capelotti edited Lt. Walsh’s report and turned it into an extraordinary book, which was published in 2010. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

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New Bedford Guide


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