By Ed Yong
Humans had been catching and eating whales for millennia, but America came to to dominate the world of cetacean slaughter in the 19th century. With hundreds of powerful ships, gun-loaded harpoons, bountiful coasts, and a strong seafaring tradition, the Yankee whalers were incredibly successful. It is estimated that they harpooned over 100,000 sperm, right, bowhead, humpback, and pilot whales for their oil and whalebone, killing more of these animals than in the previous four centuries combined.
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