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The whale museum in Canišal

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The Whale Museum is situated in the small fishing village of Canišal, on the East Coast of Madeira island. The museum looks back at the whaling activities that formed a central part of many fishermen's lives for many decades. Whaling has been prohibited in Madeiran waters since 1982. Instead, those sailors who once harpooned whales for a living are now working hard to help preserve these gentle giants of the ocean. In an effort to promote this ecological issue many fishermen surrendered their hunting instruments to the museum. Some have even created crafts and pieces of artwork from parts of old whale bones or teeth.

On display there are many photographs, depicting many of the processes involved in the trapping of whales by Madeiran fishermen along the coast. The visual exhibit ranges in pictures of the preparation of boats, whale spotting on the high sea, hunting methods, and images of festivities after a successful hunt. There are other pictures showing the processing and transport of processed whale material, including oil extraction and meat preparation.

A major attraction of the museum is the model of a life-size whale on display. Alongside the replica of the whale is a small fishing boat, similar to those used when fishermen went whale hunting. Visitors are able to compare the sizes and dimensions of the boat and whale to each other - and in so doing can appreciate how difficult and dangerous this now banned activity was for the local residents of Canišal.

Besides the impressive models on display, there are small collectibles and items for sale at a small stand in the museum: models of fishing boats, various whale bone handicrafts, and so on.










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