Within three leagues of the shore we saw Sperm Whales in great plenty. We sailed through different shoals of them from 12 o’clock in the day till sunset, all round the horizon, as far as I could see from the mast head.
— Captain Thomas Melville, 22 November 1791
On average each vessel killed about 100 whales a season, which would mean that the Americans alone [circa 1880] must have been killing 70,000 a year in the Pacific.
— Clive Ponting, A Green History of the World, 1991, p188. emphasis added.