The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
SEALING- Elephanting

SEALING- Elephanting

  • Trypot


Like all countries we have sections in our history that we prefer not to remember and the sealing, whaling and penguin hunting era must surely top the Falklands and South Atlantic's list. Before fossil fuel oil was drilled in the 1850's much oil the world needed for lamps etc. was sourced from animals, particulary the whale and seal. There was also a great demand for skins and pelts. Sealing and whaling provided a lot of oil.

While Fur Seal were hunted for their pelts, elephant seals were killed for their oil. 'Elephanting' or the harvesting of the Southern Elephant seals was best carried out in spring when they were fat and full of blubber. Boiled down a good bull weighing 4 tons or more could yield over 90 gallons of oil. This was done in try pots (which still can be seen around the islands), and resulted in a product similar to whale oil. This was a valuable commodity in Victorian times when it was sold for lamp fuel and tanning. Elephant seals are tame and lazy, lie around on easily accessible beaches, and were sitting targets for the sealers. Females were clubbed but the huge males were shot. Because of their vulnerability their numbers quickly reduced and they came very near to extinction in the 1800's. They did recover enough for some to be processed at Albemarle but with its closure 'elephanting' thankfully ended.





Photographic credits: Robert Maddocks, Trypot-Biffo Tuson

Photographs and Images Copyright: The images on this site have been bought under licence or have been used with the permission of their owners. They may not be copied or downloaded in any form without their owner's consent.

Sources include: The Falkland Islands- Ian J Strange, James Lovegrove Waldron- Notebook and Diary 1866- 1867