Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Whaling is the industry of hunting or fishing for a number of species of whales, primarily for products which can be harvested from their bodies. Historically, whales were a very valuable source of materials. The blubber (a fatty substance which keeps whales warm) was harvested for use in oil lamps, cosmetics, and to make margarine. Whale bones were once commonly used in constructing garments like corsets and hoop skirts. The teeth of whales (also called whale ivory) was used to make decorative ornaments and knick-knacks. Whale meat can be eaten, and has a long history of being one of the primary foods of Pacific Northwest First Nations people. 

Whaling is controversial as the populations of whales in the wild are under stress and losing numbers. Animal activist groups and biologists both attest that whales have social communities, and therefore are feeling beings. We face the ethical question of whether or not whales having feelings means that we should not kill them. The industry of whaling has been outlawed in most countries, but some cultures depend on whales as a staple of their livelihood.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial