A Wild Rough Lot
Whaling and sealing are evocative subjects today. Extensive media coverage of the actions of environmental groups have brought the world’s attention to the plight of seals and the great whales in a way that would have been incomprehensible when Moray Firth ports sent ships to the hunting grounds. The attitudes and actions of the nineteenth century were vastly different from those of the twenty-first; hunting was a popular sport and whales were seen as a valuable commodity rather than a fellow species deserving of conservation.
To the Greenlandmen, the mariners who sailed the ships and hunted the whale in the waters of the Greenland Sea and the Davis Strait, whaling was a job. It may have been tinged with romance and spiced with adventure, but essentially it provided a wage that paid the rent and clothed and fed the family. At its peak in the 1850s nine whaling and sealing vessels sailed from Moray Firth ports. That was a significant percentage of the Scottish total, and the Arctic adventure certainly contributed to the local economy.