Flensing Deck Whaling Station

Tangalooma Flensing Deck - Queensland's old Whaling Station

It's hard to visit Tangalooma Island Resort and not walk past what is now known as the 'Flensing Deck', but did you know that this was once a whaling station during the 1950's?

In 1950 the Australian Company Whale Products Pty Ltd was formed and Tangalooma, on Queensland's Morteon Island was chosen as the site for the largest land based whaling station in the southern hemisphere. The first two humpback whales were harpooned shortly after in 1952. Later on in that same year the whaling program had killed and processed the then yearly quota of 600 whales, with the season lasting only 124 days

One whale could yield more than 8000 kilograms of oil, the most valuable resource, which was used to make margarine, glycerine, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The meat was used for pet food or human consumption overseas, and the bones, offal and low-grade meat were turned into meal for livestock or fertiliser.

In the late 1950's vegetable oil was introduced and then in 1959 there was a fall in world whale oil prices. By 1961 the whales were becoming scarce and light planes were employed to spot the whales from the air. In August 1962, only 68 whales had been caught and the whaling station closed.

In the 10 years of operation 6,277 humpback whales and one blue whale were killed and processed. The operation seriously decimated the east coast's population of humpback whales from an estimated 15,000 to be less than 500.

The Flensing Deck and Tangalooma Island Resort Today

In 1963 the Tangalooma Whaling Station was sold to a syndicate of Gold Coast businessmen and in 1980 the resort was purchased by the Osborne family, who still currently own and operate the resort. As a result of the whaling program, humpback whales were placed on the Protected Species list in 1965.

The flensing deck remains at the resort as a continual memory of what can happen when over hunting of wildlife is legal. It is now used by the resort as a shelter for some resort activities such as basketball and handball.

Today, Tangalooma Island Resort is still owned and operated by the Osborne family, Brian and Betty, along with sons Jeff and Glenn. The irony is that Tangalooma was once used as a Whaling Station, yet today Tangalooma is now one of Queensland's largest Whale Watching operators, with daily whale watching cruises between June and October every year - and with over 1200 whales sighted in 2017, it is amazing how things can change!

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