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The Bounty of the Sea

New England's Sea Mammals

GRAMPUS (Risso's Dolphin)

Grampus griseus

Size:to 13'

Habitat:Near surface of open seas, mostly out to sea but near shore where continential shelf is near shore. Occurs in large herds

Diet:Fish, squid

Method of Capture:Found stranded on beach

Seasonality:Year round

Uses:Food, tools


John Smith 1614

242: Cape Cod, saw whales, grampus, porposes, turbot, sturgeon, cod, hake, haddock, cole, cusk, ling, shark, mackerall, herring, base, pinacks, cunners, pearchs, eels, crabs, lobsters, mussels, wilkes, oysters

Edward Winslow 1621-1625

151: As we drew near to the shore, we espied some 10 or 12 Indians very busy about a black thing- what it was we could not tell.....We then directed our course along the sea sands to the place where we first saw the Indians (towards Wellfleet harbor). When we were there, we saw it was also a grampus which they were cutting up. They cut it in long rands, or pieces, which were about and ell long and two handfuls broad. We found here and there a piece scattered by the way, as it

seemed for haste. This place the most were minded we should call the Grampus

Bay because we found so many of them there (Wellfleet Harbor).

Archaeological Sites

Browne Site, Plymouth, Massachusetts (Plimoth Plantation Archaeological Collections)


Harbor Porpoise: Phocena phocena

Bottlenosed Dolphin: Turisops truncatus

Size: to 6'; to 12'

Habitat:Near surface most often seaward; inshore in bays, harbors, estuaries and river mouths; in ocean

Diet:Small fish, octopus, squid

Method of Capture:strandings




Natick Dictionary

159: tatackommau-og from tattagkom he keeps striking with mau generic for fish the porpoise from togkom he strikes

Roger Williams 1643

Tatackommauog Porpoises


Harbor Seal: Phoca vitulina

Grey Seal: Halichoerus grypus

Size:4-5' 7"; 9' 10"

Habitat:waters along rocky coast, mouths of rivers

Diet:Fish, Mollusks

Method of Capture:Clubbed, speared, shot with arrows?

Seasonality: Year round

Uses:Food, clothing


Gosnold 1602

48: saw seals

Pring 1603

60: June- August saw seals

Weymouth 1605

149: saw seals

Samual Argall 1610

206: July, Penobscot Bay killed 3 seals

William Wood 1634

54: Seals: skin good for diverse uses, body tastes somewhere between fish and flesh, very delectable to palate, Oil good to burn

108: they often go to the rocks on which the sun beats to look for seals, whose oil they much esteem.

Archaeological Sites


Right Whale: Eubalaena glacialis

Killer Whale: Orcinus orca

Pilot Whale: Globicephala melaena

Humpback Whale: Megaptera novaeangliae

Sperm Whale: Physeter catodon

Size:to 53'; to 31'; to 20'; to 53'

Habitat:often near shore in shallow water; uppers layers of cooler waters; inshore waters and bays in summer; along coast

Diet:Fish and squid

Method of Capture:Found on beach


Uses:Food, tools, oil used


Gosnold 1602

48: saw whales, tortoises, seals, cods, mackerall, breames, thornbacks, hakes, rockfish, dogfish, lobsters, crabs

Weymouth 1605

149: saw whales, seals, cod, haddock, herring, palise, thornback, rockfish, lobster, crabs, mussels, cockles, winkles, cunner fish, lumps, whiting, soales, tortoises, oysters.

John Smith 1614

242: Cape Cod, saw whales, grampus, porposes, turbot, sturgeon, cod, hake, haddock, cole, cusk, ling, shark, mackerall, herring, base, pinacks, cunners, pearchs, eels, crabs, lobsters, mussels, wilkes, oysters

Josselyn 1672

35: The sperm Ceti Whale differeth from the whale that yieldeth us Whale-bones, for the first hath great and long teeth, the other is nothing but bones with tassels hanging from their jaws, with which they suck in their prey.

What Sperm Ceti is: it is not long since a Sperm Ceti whale or two were cast upon the shore, not far from Boston in the Massachusetts bay, which being cut into small pieces and boiled in cauldrons, yieldeth plenty of oyl; the oyl put up into hogsheads, and stowed into Cellars for some time candies at the bottom, it may be one quarter; then the oyl is drawn off, and the candied stuff put up into convenient

vessels is sold for spermaceti, and is right Sperma Ceti.

For bruises and aches: The oyl that was drawn off candies again and again, it well

ordered; and is admirable for bruises and aches.

What ambergeece is: Now you must understand this whale feeds upon ambergeece, as is apparent, finding it in the Whales Maw in great quantity, but altered and excrementitious; I conceive that Ambergeece is a kind of mushroom growing at

the bottom of some seas; I was once showed (by a mariner) a piece of

Ambergeece having a root to it like that of a land mushroom, which the whale

breaking up, some scrape his devouring Paunch, and is afterwards cast upon


Roger Williams 1643

183: Potop/ Potopauog Whales

Which in some places cast up; I have seen some but not above 60 feet long. The natives cut them out in severalll parcels and give and send farr and neere for an acceptable present or dish

Waskeke The whalebone