Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Scrimshaw, as an art form, had just recently risen a few notches above the state of obscurity. There are still millions of Americans who probably know nothing about it. Inextricably linked with the whaling industry for years, the scrimshaw industry has recently undergone a remarkable transition. When whaling ended in the United States, scrimshaw moved ashore and some people found out that there was a great deal of money to be made in the scrimshaw business. but with the passage of the Marine Mammals Protection Act in 1973, scrimshanders found themselves being tightly regulated by the Federal government. This paper will examine the United States' scrimshaw industry as it operates today. it shall review the history of scrimshaw as it relates to New England specifically, and will trace the transformation of the art form from an obscure folk art to a lucrative business. Finally, using interviews with a number of people both in law enforcement and in the scrimshaw business itself, it shall review the practical effects of the two Federal acts which directly impact U.S. scrimshanders.