Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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Plucky Exploit of Local Scientist

Balaena whaling ship

Engaged in one of the strangest experiments ever undertaken are Dr A M Case, formerly house surgeon at the County Hospital, and Mr Kenneth Whittle, granted a year’s absence from his position as pathologist at the same institution.

Both are members of an expedition on board the British whaling factory ship Balaena, engaged in an effort to discover the practicability of utilising whale meat for human consumption. Recently Dr Case, in order to complete an important stage of the investigations, put on a special “frogman” underwater suit and dived into the icy water to take the temperature of a living whale. Dr Case succeeded in thrusting the thermometer into the whale’s body. As he was taking the readings water flooded into the breathing apparatus of his suit and he was unconscious when rescued.

(Isle of Wight County Press 22 March 1947 & image from www.belfastforum.co.uk)

The Popular Mechanics Magazine of February 1947 contained an article on the Whaling Factory Ship Balaena which was operating in Antarctic waters and carried 430 men. It was described as a majestic and modern ship which used radar to dodge icebergs. ‘Fully equipped laboratories are available to chemists and researchers on the ship.’


A Note on Whaling Today.

International cooperation on whaling regulation began in 1931 and culminated in the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) in 1946. Its aim is to: provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up under the ICRW to decide hunting quotas and other relevant matters based on the findings of its Scientific Committee. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in order to increase the whale stock.

Contemporary whaling is subject to intense debate. Pro-whaling countries, notably Japan, Norway, and Iceland, wish to lift the ban on certain whale stocks for hunting. Anti-whaling countries and environmental groups oppose lifting the ban. While the debate still goes on whether or not whaling should be illegal, many environmentalists say that unless it is stopped, whales could go extinct in the near future. (Wikipedia)