Green Cape Lighthouse
In a unique relationship between humans and wild creatures, the Killer Whales (Orcas) of Eden would round up larger whales and drive them into Twofold Bay (just north of here) as easily as a sheep dog rounds up a flock.
The Orcas would attack and weaken the larger whales so the human whalers in their small rowboats could harpoon the giants. As thanks for the killer whales’ support, the whalers would give the killers the tongue and lips of the whales.
Killer got your tongue?
While the killer whales would bite and harass the whales, they were only interested in eating the tongue and lips of the whale. After a kill, the whalers would anchor the whale and mark its location so the killers could have their reward before the whale would be towed to shore to be processed. Crews would wait until gases formed by the whale’s decomposition would float it to the surface and then row it in to shore. Some crews, who did not respect “the law of the tongue” were scorned by the indigenous and European whalers alike.
Are Killer Whales real killers?
Despite killer whales’ fierce and often vicious pursuit of whales, dolphins and seals, they never attacked, and even offered protection to the human whalers. In at least one known case, George Davidson was thrown overboard, injured and bleeding, as he tried to lance a thrashing whale. “Old Tom”, a well-known killer whale broke off from the pack and circled George repeatedly, in what George believed was an act to protect him from the sharks known to be in the water. Accounts are also made of “Hooky” lifting a whaler by the shirt up from the depths after capsizing. The relationship went two ways as whalers would also assist their hunting partners when they became entangled in ropes, nets or accidentally beached themselves. Reports of a purring noise made by the whales when released have also been made.
In the early days of whaling, only whale oil (extracted from the blubber) and baleen (a strong, yet flexible material made out of keratin, the same protein that is in our hair and fingernails) that the whalers were seeking to extract from the whale. Products made from whale were as diverse as lamp oil fuel, candles, perfume, umbrellas, whips and riding crops, buttons, hooped skirts and corsets, brooms, brushes and gelatine. As time passed and substitutes were found, this lowered the price and contributed to the decline in demand for whale oil and baleen.
Light house tours are held each day at 3pm from December 19 to 31. Cost is $10 per adults, $5 child, family $25. Bookings can be made by phoning National Parks on 6495 5000.