California

Whaler Island, Crescent City

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Whaler Island is about 633 feet (193 m) across, lies about 0.4 miles (.65 km) offshore, and is connected to the mainland with a paved road on an artificial breakwater at Crescent City, California. The island is named for an historical shore based commercial whaling station that operated there.

Shore based whaling was a profitable commercial enterprise along the California coast in the 1800’s. Whaling stations existing at Crescent City, Trinidad, Bolinas Bay, Half Moon Bay, Pigeon Point, Santa Cruz, Monterey Bay, Carmel Bay, Point Sur, San Simeon, Port Harford, Point Conception, Goleta, San Pedro, and San Diego. The whales were pursued in boats from shore, and when captured were towed to the beach and flensed. The fat was rendered in try-pots fired by crude furnaces. At Whaler Island a small shanty with four compartments served the purpose of washroom, drying room, storeroom, and cooper's shop. A whaling “company” usually consisted of one captain, one mate, a cooper, two boat steerers, and eleven laborers. From this crew, two whale boats were provided with six men each, leaving four hands on shore, who would take their turn at the lookout station and maintaining the try-pot fires.

During the late 19th century construction of breakwaters began at Crescent City and by 1930, at least 3 breakwaters protected the harbor including a breakwater that extended from the mainland to Whaler Island. Beginning in about 1945, Whaler Island was quarried to supply rock to reinforce the breakwaters which now form the Crescent City Harbor. Over the years, the breakwater connecting Whaler Island to the mainland has been widened and reinforced substantially. Today, the breakwater is over 160 feet (50 m) wide and used regularly by vehicles. There is a public boat launch and several buildings including a U.S. Coast Guard duty station. Read more here and here. Explore more of Whaler Island here:


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