History of Basque whaling
The Basques were among the first to catch whales commercially, and dominated the trade for five centuries, spreading to the far corners of the North Atlantic and even reaching the South Atlantic. The French explorer Samuel de Champlain, when writing about Basque whaling in Terranova, described them ""as the cleverest men at this fishing"". By the early 17th century, other nations entered the trade in earnest, seeking the Basques as tutors, ""for [they] were then the only people who understand whaling"", lamented the English explorer Jonas Poole. Having learned the trade themselves, other nations adopted their techniques and soon dominated the burgeoning industry – often to the exclusion of their former instructors. Basque whaling peaked in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, but was in decline by the late 17th and early 18th centuries. By the 19th century, it was moribund as the right whale was nearly extinct and the bowhead whale was decimated.