SEA Currents: SEASCape
July 10, 2019
Today we travelled off the Cape to the port town of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Upon our arrival in New Bedford, we visited the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center, where we examined commercial fisheries through the perspective of local fishermen. We discussed the growth of fishing in New Bedford, beginning with subsistence fishing, and the subsequent rise of commercial fishing.
Commercial fishing rose after New Bedford invested in infrastructure such as shoreside repair yards, ice suppliers, and fish auction houses. We also discussed the hazards of commercial fishing, and were very surprised to learn that fisherman are ten times more likely to die on the job than police officers. We learned about new safety measures aboard commercial fishing vessels, and students participated in a race to find out who could put on a full immersion suit the fastest (the record being 57 seconds).
After a picnic lunch, we headed over to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. We visited the museum’s library, where we viewed a variety of primary sources pertaining to the whaling industry. These sources included ships logs, personal journals, hand drawn maps, and photographs.
Our next stop in New Bedford was the Fisherman’s Bethel, a church depicted in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. We saw the pew where Melville himself sat during his time in New Bedford. The Bethel, as we learned during our visit, became a memorial for sailors who died at sea. Since the bodies of these sailors were not taken home, and they did not receive traditional grave sites, their families commissioned memorial plaques at the Bethel to remember and mourn their loved ones.
With our remaining time in New Bedford, we divided into small groups to explore the town and find a cool drink to drive away the summer heat. We then jumped on the bus and headed back to the Cape for free time and dinner. After dinner, we watched a movie titled “Atlantic”. Then we were off to study hall to finish our ship research assignments for Oceans and Society class.
- Lily Cooper, UNC Chapel Hill & Tate Rosenberg, Gunnery School