San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionHistory of the Museum

Trip to Trinidad Whaling Station, July-August 1926

Processing a Finback
July 22

A 60 foot finback was brought in last night & we watched it thru the process of disarticulation this morning, photographing such parts as we wanted for study. In about 3 hours the entire animal was in the cooking vats – bones and all. The stomach contained about 1 ½ tons of mackerel all about 10 inches in length. The sarcophagus [esophagus?] was less than 4” in diameter & stuffed with fish.

Huey Photo - hauling up Finback Hauling Up
Cutting Up
Huey Photo - Cutting up Finback
Huey Photo - feeding blubber cutter Feeding
Blubber Cutter
A.B. Howell with Eardrum
Huey Photo - Howell with whale eardrum

Finbacks are rather pretty animals being light almost white below & bluish black dorsally. Long corrugations extend from the lower jaw to the middle of the belly & are black in color. They remind me very much of the ribs of corduroy cloth. These corrugations are bellows’ like in nature and allow the animal to take in a great school of fish, water & all & strain the food out by contraction of this corrugated surface which excludes the water.

We had a pleasant chat with Mr. Fred Dedrick, manager of the plant this afternoon & he placed at our disposal this year’s records of captured whales. He says that after each season his company gives Dr. Evermann a complete tally of whales taken & has done so since 1920.

"Many of the leaders in the whaling trade are cooperating in an effort to determine the biological factors that are involved [in whale population dynamics]." - Remington Kellogg, Smithsonian Assistant Curator of Mammals, 1931.
Barton Warren Evermann was the director of the California Academy of Sciences at this time, and he monitored information about catches, such as date, species, sex, area taken, length, weight, reproductive condition, and body condition, along the California coast during these years. These records are still available at the Academy.

We set all our traps in a gulch north of town. They were placed along the stream course under roots & near the small rill of water.