National Geographic : 1896 Jan
SCOPE AND VALUE OF ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS tions and store of indomitable energy, to make the northwest and northeast passages, to outline the northern coast of America, and to discover the archipelagoes and islands situated poleward from the three continents of the northern hemisphere. Hudson's voyage to the Greenland sea, in 1607, was of vast industrial and commercial importance, for his discovery and reports of the incredible number of walruses and whales that frequented these seas gave rise to the Spitzbergen whale fishery. The voyage of Poole for walruses and exploration, in 1610, was followed by the establishment of the whale fishery by Edge in the following year. Enterprising Holland sent its ships in 1613, later bringing in its train whalers from Bremen, France, and other maritime centers. The whale fishery, as the most important of Arctic industries, from which Holland alone drew from the Spitzbergen seas in one hundred and ten years, 1679 1778, products valued at about $90,000,000, merits at least our brief attention. Grad writes: "The Dutch sailors saw in Spitzbergen waters great whales in immense numbers, whose catch would be a source of apparently inexhaustible riches. For two centuries fleets of whalers frequented its seas. The rush to the gold-bear ing placers of California and the mines of Australia afforded in our day the only examples at all comparable to the host of men attracted by the northern fishery." Scoresby says: " In a short time (whaling) proved the most lucrative and the most important branch of national commerce which had ever been offered to man." This emphatic statement is devoid of exaggeration in the slightest degree. Scoresby gives, year by year, the products of the Dutch whale fishery in the Arctic seas from 1668 to 1778, which aggregate in value over $100,000,000. When it is known that Scoresby himself caught in thirty voyages fish to the value of $1,000,000, it will not be considered extravagant to place the products of the British whale fishery at $250,000,000. Starbuck gives the product of the American whale fishery from 1804 to 1877 as $332,000,000, making the aggregate of three nations, America, England, and Holland, more than $680,000,000. How far this amount should be increased on account of seal, walrus, and other strictly Arctic sea game need not be considered, but Norwegian and Russian fishers have successfully exploited these sources for the past century.
1895 Oct 31