Tassie’s whale boys
December 8, 1923, saw the first Antarctic blue whale killed in the Ross Sea by the steam whale catcher Star II. It was towed to the factory ship Sir James Clark Ross and rendered down into 80 barrels of oil. It was the first of many thousands in a slaughter that brought the world’s blue whale population to its knees.
Aboard the Ross, and witnessing the first kill, were twelve young men recruited in Tasmania by the Norwegian Ross Sea Whaling Company. Ross called into Hobart in November 1923 to pick up the young men, fresh water, coal and the last fresh vegetables the ship’s company would see for several months. She returned to Europe in 1924, via Hobart, having proved that Antarctic whaling could be profitable, and so sealing the fate of the largest mammals ever to have evolved on Earth.