The Basque Whalers: the Source of their Success

By Julian de Zulueta, published August 2000


Expert inshore whale hunters since the eleventh century, the Basques eventually had to seek their quarry further afield. For much of the sixteenth century they played the leading role in cod fishing and whaling in the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their success is attributed to the sturdiness of their Biscayan ships, a well-organized system for financing and insuring voyages, and avoidance of such distractions as laying claim to territory. The author argues that crews remained in good health on long voyages thanks to the anti-scorbutic qualities of cod roe eaten raw.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Early Modern) | Health at Sea
Subjects include: Science & Exploration | Whaling & Fishing

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