Whaling Tales: Unveiling Martha's Vineyard's Maritime History | Shorewords!

August 1, 2023

From drift whales to island riches

Whaling on Martha’s Vineyard:  Join Shorewords host, Lesley Ewing, in conversation with Thomas Dresser, historian, author and tour guide, in a discussion about whaling on Martha’s Vineyard. Martha’s Vineyard experienced the full range of American whaling, from retrieval of whale meat from ‘drift’ or beached whales to the commercial exploitation of whale oil from the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans to provide lighting and function as a lubricant. Vineyarders were mates and officers aboard most of the New England whaling fleet and much of the early economy of the island came from whaling. Learn about the conditions on ship-board, the men and women who were on whaling ships, the eventual demise of whaling and ways that whaling remains part of the Martha’s Vineyard’s community.

Show Transcription
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Lesley Ewing

Hello. I’m Lesley Ewing, host of Shorewords!. This podcast combines two of my favorite things – the ocean and books. I learned to swim before I could walk and looked forward each summer to my family’s vacation at Ocean City, Maryland. As a student I was interested in science and engineering and became an environmental engineer before learning that there was something called coastal engineering. Both my 1 st and 2 nd mid-life crises resulted in me going back to school – first for a Masters of Engineering at UC Berkeley and later for a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. The first crisis also moved me from DC to the SF Bay. The second crisis reminded me how much I liked to read. Getting a Ph.D. while working a 40+-hour/week job meant that my only reading was work reports, text books and technical articles. They were all important and interesting books, but as soon as school ended, I replaced my academic text books with broader literature and realized that the coast was often a character in the fiction and non-fiction that I read. I am still fascinated by every visit to the ocean and remain in awe of what others write about the coast.