This is probably going to turn into some big thing that will get me totally spammed, but I have to make a comment here about the seal hunt.
The seal hunt has been a strong thing in Newfoundland every year for a lot of years. It’s seen tragedy, and setbacks. It has a strong history and also serves a purpose.
The seal hunt has been around for over a hundred years. It’s been used to help fishermen make a living during the winter and also to help keep the seal population down. Overpopulation of seals means underpopulation of fish stock which hurts fishermen trying to survive. This has been a repeating cycle that the protesters tend to forget about.
One of the biggest tragedies related to the seal hunt happened in 1914,when 78 fisherman spent 53 hours stuck on the during a harsh blizzard. They got seperated from their ship following a pack of seals and were stuck in the middle of the ice surrounded by snow and howling winds. There were no survivors. A book was written about it back in the 70s called “Death On the Iceâ which is actually required reading for Newfoundland children. There was also a condensed poem of sorts written about it:
Death On The Ice (The Story)
In the spring of nineteen fourteen, the sealers came to town,
Trying to book a passage on a ship iceward bound;
To try and earn a dollar when none was being made,
They would risk life and limb but they were not afraid.
There was the Bonaventure and the Belleventure, too,
And there was the Newfoundland just waiting for her crew;
There stood the Stephano, what a great ship was she,
And also the Florazelle, a part of this tragedy.
They came from every bay and town, they came both young and old,
They came not for the sport, but came for a little gold;
Maybe if they were lucky, make a hundred or more,
But would they be so eager if they knew what was in store.
Now when they made it to the front the Newfoundland got froze,
She found it hard to maneuver in the heavy ice flows;
Her captain was frustrated, the seals were very scarce,
He never seen it quite so bad, the ice was mighty fierce.
He spotted the Stephano about five miles away,
They were in the main patch and really making it pay;
Then the captain took a chance, sent his men across the ice,
To try and pan some whitecoats but couldn’t foresee the price.
When they reached the Stephano they were hungry and beat,
So captain Kean took them aboard gave them a bite to eat;
Then he put them on the ice to head for the Newfoundland,
By this time a storm was brewing, and death was close at hand.
They started for the Newfoundland but soon they were lost,
A blizzard now blew fiercely, they’d soon pay the cost;
More than a hundred thirty men were stranded on the ice,
No one knew that they were there, they’d pay an awful price.
For two days and two nights they suffered on the flows,
With little shelter and little food, in soaking wet clothes;
When the temperature dropped down, their bodies turned to ice,
Seventy-seven men then perished, they paid the ultimate price.
They tried to keep on moving so they would not freeze,
Some died while walking, some died on their knees;
Some grew so weary that they no longer cared,
Some walked out in the water and soon disappeared.
The second day they found them, oh what an awful sight,
Bodies strewn every where, survivors in a plight;
Frozen hands and frozen feet, frostbitten on the face,
What caused this dreadful tragedy, what caused this awful waste?
They piled their bodies on the deck several layers high,
Their remains like statues, silhouettes against the sky;
With their gruesome cargo, they headed back to shore,
In a history filled with tragedy, just add one chapter more.
*####â¦. Everett Adams. Recorded by Gary Callahan (Death On The Ice, Newsflash Sounds
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