Whaling in Bequia

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I have been reading a book by Douglas Carlton Abrams—a novel titled Eye of the Whale. It was recommended as an interesting environmental thriller about a dedicated scientist who has spent almost a decade cracking the code of humpback whale communication. Their song, the most complex in nature, may in fact reveal secrets about the animal world that no one could have imagined. When a humpback whale swims up the Sacramento River with a strange and unprecedented song, our heroine must decipher its meaning in order to save the whale. Conspiracies and havoc follow.

I mention it here since it has a tangential connection to the Caribbean. Eye of the Whale purports to be fact-based fiction, and, in researching the book, the author studied the habits of whalers in Bequia, a southern Caribbean island, where readers first meet the story’s protagonist. Bequia is the second largest island in the Grenadines and one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still allowed by the International Whaling Commission. Natives of Bequia are allowed to catch up to 4 Humpback Whales per year using only traditional hunting methods of hand thrown harpoons in small open sailing boats. Though they rarely catch their limit and some years do not catch any. The island has a long tradition of whaling as well as of building of whaling boats. There is a small whaling museum on the island which chronicles this history.

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