George Whaling

George Whaling

When he was a kid, George watched whales with his dad and learned about their plight. They were being harmed by commercial fishing.

In the late 19th century, scientists developed new methods to hunt and process whales. These included harpoon guns.

Early Life and Education

As a young man, george whaling was a keen reader and avid reader of stories from the sea. He read Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, a fictional tale of the adventures of Captain Ahab that was based on real-life events.

He also learned the trade of sailing on whaler ships. He had a natural gift for rigging vessels and was able to easily climb the ranks of ship’s captains on whaling voyages from Southampton, Nantucket and New Bedford.

He lived on a sailboat called the Perch, a small, flat-bottomed vessel with two masts and a rudder and a square bow that was used to hunt and remove bowhead whales. The bowhead whale, a species of great white whale, is the only species that lives in open water in the Arctic. It can live to 200 years old in part because of the cold waters and a foot of blubber that keeps it warm.

Professional Career

George played professional baseball in 1926 for the Salt Lake City Bees. He started out as a catcher and was eventually promoted to acting manager.

In his final game as a player in Organized Baseball he hit.333, the highest average of his career. Afterwards, he was traded to the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League.

He was not able to make it back to the majors, though, and ended his career as a catcher. He was a backup to Bill Rariden, and had to throw out would-be base stealers to keep the job.

He also was an artist who documented whales in the waters of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His etchings, watercolors, and sketches are full of maritime details that he collected and studied in detail.

Achievements and Honors

On November 16, 1880, George Gilley, the only Native Hawaiian whaling captain in history, rigged his whaleboat with a sail. With the wind freshening at his wake, he raced past the flag-boat at Waikiki, sprinted west to a buoy near the Pearl River mouth and then beat back through Honolulu Harbor.

The event launched the sporting festivities for King Kalakaua’s 44th birthday. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser described a “spontaneous spirit of enthusiasm” that was felt by all.

Personal Life

George is a whale biologist who balances scientific inquiry with respect for the Inupiaq’s way of life and cultural beliefs. He shares his findings with the school children of his home community in a way that encourages understanding.

The bowhead whale has thrived in the region where George lives, in part because of people’s decision to leave them alone. But a changing climate has made it more difficult for the giant creatures to thrive.

In the past decade, ice that forms on the ocean has appeared much later in polar winter than it did just a few decades ago. As a result, more of the bowheads George has counted are rising for air between floes.

Net Worth

George Tilton ran away from home at the age of fourteen and began his forty year career as a whaling captain. He went on whaling and merchant vessels around the world including Alaska, Hawaii, Argentina, Greenland, Europe, and the Canary Islands. He endured land sharks, yellow fever, hard drinking, desertion, attempted murder, mutiny, and more. He also wrote a book about his adventures.

He died in 1852. By the time of his death he had a net worth of $615,000 and owned 9 whaling ships. He also held high positions in Burgess & Howland, the Whaling Insurance Company of New Bedford, the Western Railroad, and the Committee on Mercantile Affairs. In addition to his wealth, he was a major supporter of many local charities.

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