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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: SEASCape

August 01, 2017

New Bedford

Ana Velasquez & Gwendolyn Donahue, University City High School & Dalton School

SEA Semester

Above: Whale skeletons hang from the ceiling at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Below: Fishing boats fill New Bedford Harbor

The morning began with a 7:30 wakeup and eggs. On the short bus ride to New Bedford, we listened to music and discussed our excitement for the day. Once arriving in New Bedford, we were immediately struck by the historic appearance of the town. After going over the day’s plans with Dan, we entered the Seaman’s Bethel. Inside the Bethel, we studied the cenotaphs, which are memorials for someone whose body was lost after their passing. Many of men the cenotaphs were dedicated to were whalers and fishermen who were unable to save themselves after being separated from their boat. After we had time to explore the Bethel on our own, Dan gathered us to explain the story of Frank Kanaka. Kanaka means ‘islander’, and was used to refer to native Hawaiians and Polynesians. This cenotaph showed that mariners’ negative treatment of minorities, and the lack of identity given to them aboard ships. After leaving the Bethel, we explored the town of New Bedford, and were able to see the active fishing ports. Dan then explained the workings of the modern fisheries, and the differences in technology used in whaling and fishing.

We were allotted an hour of free time to picnic in the park and visit local cafes. Once our lunch break was over, we met at the entrance of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Upon entering the museum, we were met with a smell Dan explained to be whale oil from the overhanging skeletons of two adult whales and one calf. We then explored and learned about knots, hitches, and bends, and the different uses for them. Moving upstairs, we discussed the various types of whales and where and why they were hunted specifically. Paying close attention to the field trip worksheet, the group split and we were allowed to move freely about the museum. We were able to see a model whaling ship, and learn about what was kept on board. We learned about the culture and interconnected community that came out of the fisheries. The museum possessed artifacts such as the art forms of carved shells and teeth, ship logs, and clothing. The exhibit impressed upon us the ingenuity and entrepreneurship that resulted from the need to use all aspects of the whale. Some products included houses and boats made from the skeleton, baskets, clothing, and toboggans made from baleen, and twine made from the tendons. Many students ended the day at the gift shop and viewing platform which looked out upon the port of New Bedford. While somewhat disheartening, Dan emphasized the positive aspects of whaling, such as the art forms, technology, and fishery culture that resulted from the whaling industry.

Once back on campus, we enjoyed some free time and great dinner of macaroni and cheese, broccoli, and salad. After moving up to the Madden Center, we watched ‘The Whale Rider’, which is a movie about the gender expectations and divisions in a religious town in New Zealand. This movie demonstrated the expected roles of different genders in a community. The movie was a positive end to another day of our intellectual voyage at SEASCape.

- Ana & Gwendolyn

Categories: SEASCape, • Topics: seascape2  life on shore  megafauna • (0) Comments
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