A painting of one of the revered whalers at the Bequia Whalers and Maritime Museum. - Charles Trainor Jr/Miami Herald/MCT
Bequia islanders in the eastern Caribbean are the only whalers in the Americas still allowed to hunt Moby Dick style. But keeping tradition and pursuing conservation is tough business.
Standing on the rocky shore of Bequia Island, the tall, greying man looks pensively through drizzling rain at the dark clouds, listens to the angry sea and wonders if nature will deny him a whale yet another day. Don’t call him Ishmael. Call him Kingsley. Kingsley Stowe is among what could be the last in a long line of whalers from this tiny island.
It’s whale-hunting season, and islanders are hungry for the savoury meat they say tastes like beef, and the oil used in a variety of homemade remedies. But there have been only sparse sightings of the breaching humpbacks that routinely migrate south from their northern feeding grounds – and no captures.
“I don’t think we’re going to go out today,” says Stowe, 54, a harpooner and proud defender of an ancient, daring trade on the verge of disappearing.