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Culture heritage (traditional)

Whaling in the seas of Madeira, associated crafts and activities, and the transition from hunting cetaceans to protecting them form a central part of cetacean-related culture in the region. Whaling, particularly for sperm whales, was introduced in Madeira in the early 1940s and the decade saw the construction of the first lookout post, whaling stations, and the Madeiran Whaling company EBAM in Caniçal. A ban on the sale of whale products in the 1970s, as well as a steady decrease in the number of sightings, eventually led to the voluntary end of whaling in the archipelago in 1981.

Today, Madeira’s history of whaling as well as its transition to conservation are preserved in exhibits at the Madeira Whale Museum. The museum accommodates a vast ethnographic collection that includes art pieces, old utensils and whaling equipment, records and photos of whalers, as well as an accurate documentation of the history of whaling in Madeira throughout the 20th century.

Several lookout points are still being used by spotters, locally known as vigias, to find passing cetaceans for whale watching boats to locate.