Whaling Industry


1820s: Because of Hawaii’s central location in the Pacific Ocean, whaling ships started to sail to Hawaii to replenish supplies, repair ships, and allow the crew to rest.

Most ships sailed to the major ports in Honolulu and Lahaina. Other ships sailed to lesser ports including Hilo and Kealakekua on the Big Island and Waimea and Koloa on Kauai.

1824: More than 170 whaling ships arrived in Hawaii.

1846: In a record year, 736 whaling ships sailed to Hawaii.

1859: Discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania, petroleum oil displaced whale oil as the fuel of choice and ended Hawaii’s whaling industry.

1871: Arctic ice destroyed thirty-three whaling ships, a significant portion of the fleet. Soon after, the sugar industry would replace whaling as the crux of Hawaii’s economy.

Search Strategies

Keywords: whale (state: Hawaii, year: up to 1872)

Browse The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s earlier issues, which focused on shipping and whaling.

Articles from Chronicling America

“The government have made Honolulu…”
Polynesian, June 26, 1847, Page 22, Image 2

“The spring season it will be seen…”
Polynesian, January 1, 1848, Page 130, Image 2

“The Pacific Whale Fishery…” (top of second column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, October 9, 1856, Image 2

“The opinion is prevalent that the whale fishery…” (top of second column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, December 3, 1857, Image 2

“The whaling season of 1858 may be considered as closed…” (top of third column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, December 23, 1858, Image 2

“Want of space compelled…” (top of second column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, February 10, 1859, Image 2

“It is quite needless to reiterate here…” (top of second column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, March 3, 1859, Image 2

“The fall season may now be considered…”
Pacific commercial advertiser, December 15, 1859, Image 2

“Letters from a Whaleman”
Pacific commercial advertiser, January 17, 1861, Image 4

“The Whale Fishery—Review of the Year”
Polynesian, March 8, 1862, Image 4

“The ‘fall season’ has opened unexpectedly early…” (top of first column)
Pacific commercial advertiser, September 25, 1862, Image 2

“The Northern Whaling Fleet”
Polynesian, December 6, 1862, Page 3

“The Very Latest from the Arctic Fleet!: Thirty-Three Ships Lost!”
Hawaiian gazette, October 25, 1871, Image 2

“From the Arctic: 33 Ships Lost”
Pacific commercial advertiser, October 28, 1871, SUPPLEMENT, Page 5


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