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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Three Centuries of Whaling and Walrus Hunting in Svalbard and its Impact on the Arctic Ecosystem

Louwrens Hacquebord

Environment and History 7(2001): 169-185

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries tens of thousands of Greenland right whales and thousands of Atlantic walruses were killed as a result of extensive whaling and walrus hunting in the waters of Svalbard. In this article whaling and walrus hunting and their impact on the environment is reconstructed. Annual catch records and shipping logs made it possible to calculate the original size of the populations and to reconstruct their original migration in the Greenland Sea. Their ultimate elimination made huge quantities of plankton and shellfish available for other marine mammals, polar cod and plankton-feeding birds.

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