Historically, New Englanders' turn to the sea for their livelihoods spurred a number of other industries as well as transatlantic commerce. Commercial whaling, for example, started in New England in the 1600s and continued right up until 1927, when the John R. Mantra whaling ship left New Bedford, Massachusetts, for its last whale-hunting voyage.
The raw materials obtained from whales was of great commercial value both domestically and abroad until the demand declined as petroleum-based products came into use in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Whale oil, however, remained the ideal lubricant for very delicate machinery and clockwork and was used for these purposes well into the twentieth century.
You might be surprised to learn that the whaling industry of New England supported the Industrial Revolution. Whale oil (made from rendered fat) was used to lubricate factory machinery before the invention of petroleum-based lubricants. A product called spermaceti (a substance taken from echolocation organs inside the heads of sperm whales), actually a kind of wax, was burned for light in lanterns and lighthouses and was in high demand both in the United States and in Europe. New England's spermaceti candles were also sold overseas.
Whalebone, which comes from baleen plates in the mouths of certain kinds of whales, is strong but flexible and was used to make such items as tools, buggy whips, umbrellas, corsets, petticoats, and collar stiffeners. As raw materials, whalebone and whale oil both supported the manufacturing industries of New England until the first half of the twentieth century when many factories from this area moved out to the Midwest.
Today whales are a part of New England's tourist industry in the form of organized whale watches.