Whaling History Conference

Stories of the Whale: From New England to the Alaskan Arctic

Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and New Bedford

humpback whale jumping

In 19th century Alaska and the Arctic, Yankee and Inupiat whaling traditions coalesced, as whalers shared technology, traditions and local knowledge. This conference commemorated the whaling heritage that shaped communities and traditions along the coasts of western and northern Alaska. The conference brought together stakeholders to highlight historic and contemporary inter-dependence among whales, coastal communities and marine habitats. Plenary sessions identified emerging challenges; envisioned new collaborations to protect marine ecosystems and species; and supported efforts to preserve coastal communities and culture.

Presented by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Nantucket Historical Association, Cape Cod Maritime Museum, National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Fisheries Center, Alaska Community Foundation, Alaska Humanities Forum,  University of Alaska, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Registration for New Bedford component only: Members Free; Non-members $25  



Monday, September 26  |  Nantucket
Stories, speakers and moderated discussions

  • Introduction and Welcome
  • PLENARY SESSION #1: The Whale: Past, Present, and Future
  • Nantucket, New England, and the Era of Yankee Whaling in the Western Arctic
  • Challenges in the Arctic and Sustainable Development
  • Tour of Nantucket Whaling Museum
  • Reception and Dinner


Tuesday, September 27 | Martha’s Vineyard

  • Tour of Arctic Exhibit at Martha’s Vineyard Museum (in Edgartown)
  • Historic Walking Tour of Edgartown
  • Lunch/Clambake with Wampanoag Community in Gay Head (Aquinnah)
  • Tour of Aquinnah Cultural Center, Gay Head Bluffs, with Native guide


Wednesday, September 28  |  New Bedford

9 am
Welcome from James Russell, Director, New Bedford Whaling Museum

9:15 – 11 am     
Tour of the New Bedford Whaling Museum

11 am – 12:15 pm 
ROUNDTABLE EVENT: Historical/Genealogical Ties between New England and Alaska Native Communities (Northern and Western Alaska) from the Whaling Era

  • John Bockstoce, “The Western Arctic”
  • Michael Dyer, New Bedford Whaling Museum
  • Kathy Ahgeak, Inupiat Heritage Center-Barrow
  • Dr. John Van Oudenaren, Library of Congress
  • Rep. Ben Nageak, Co-Chair, Alaska House Resource Committee
  • Dr. David J. Nordlander, Library of Congress

12:15 – 1:30 pm
Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:00 pm
The Whale: Present Environment and Challenges

  • Dr. Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
  • Dr. David Wiley, NOAA-Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

3 – 3:15 pm
Coffee Break

3:15 – 4:30 pm
The Future of the Whale: Global Perspectives and Education

  • Moderator: Mr. Mark Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation
  • Dr. Tim Werner, New England Aquarium
  • Dr. Leila Hatch, NOAA-Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • Katie Moore, IFAW
  • Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo, Center for Coastal Studies
  • Bob Rocha, New Bedford Whaling Museum

4:30 – 5:15 pm
STORIES OF THE WHALE: Short personal stories from conference participants

5:30 – 6:30 pm
Screening of Sonic Sea
View the movie trailer



Last modified: June 1, 2017