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A Twist in Tail:

How Whaling Changed the World

Sara Hincapie
Junior Division
Individual Website
Recalling back to when the ocean became my prior fascination is rather difficult. My

elementary days were spent buried under books and movies about the sea. In fifth grade, my

class took a trip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum: I was rather rapturous that day. A few

days after the visit, the Education Department’s workbook—A New Bedford Voyage!— was

plopped onto my hands as gift from my mother. I read that workbook from cover to cover. Four

years later, its impression still prevailed in my mind. Thus, whaling was the first topic that was

even considered for this project. There was still so much to learn and build on to. The project

was already taking form. It fit me and the theme perfectly.

Conducting research for the project was a motivating experience. Websites funded by the

government and certified educational websites were used for secondary-source inquiry. Such

websites included NOAA’s Northeast Science Fisheries branch, the online National Park Service

and, primarily, the New Bedford Whaling Museum site. The Museum has many first-account

archives, including journal entries and diaries written by the personnel on whale ships. Those

entries comprised my primary sources. Paintings and old films from the nineteenth and twentieth

centuries provided some insight on how cities looked like during the whaling period. Taunton’s

Public Library has great books and files on whaling, which I took the liberty on using. By

studying all the sources mentioned, I was able to further my understanding of whaling. The

sources provided me with great data, supportive of the thesis. Overall, they gave the project a

sturdy grasp and identification with the contest’s theme.

The website category was the most interactive. It was also a field that not many people

tend to go in. I enjoy web design, and had previous experience with it through blog-making.

Doing this contest gave me an opportunity to get back to web design. Throughout the project, I

referred to books and websites whenever I was stuck. Most of the time I used a method of trial-
and-error to achieve the results that I wanted. The making of this website was done through

experimenting. Overall, it was worth it; I loved it.

Whaling dates to time periods even before three-thousand B.C. It was not until the

seventeenth century that the industry began its booming period. Two centuries later, the

International Whaling Commission began its ban on commercial whaling. However, during its

reign, whaling brought about many changes. The currency brought in from whale products

helped with economic expansion and the development of the countries involved. Some powerful

businesses were able to rise thanks to the capitalist opportunities that the trade opened. Increased

travel, set by voyaging, augmented interactions between people. Ideas were spread through these

communications, influencing change to cultures. Finally, new technologies were developed in an

effort to improve the commerce—eventually affecting us. The changes and influence brought

upon us through whaling is why I believe that it was an important turning point in history.

(499 Words)