Thursday, July 2, 2015

Jangsaengpo Whale Museum

Jangsaengpo Whale Museum opened its doors on May 31, 2005 and is the only whale museum in Korea. The museum and corresponding Ecology Experience Hall are located in Jangsaengpo, the historical heart of whale hunting. The museum seeks to collect, preserve, and display artifacts and information about whales, which are slowly disappearing despite the moratorium on whaling in Korea since December 31, 1985.
While the museum and ecology hall are very informative and educational for kids, the Ecology Experience Hall has one major drawback. It claims "ecology" via nomenclature but it is not ecological to the handful of dolphins inside. The Ecology Experience Hall opened on November 24, 2009 because of growing popularity with the Whale Museum, and it boasts the first and so far only (thank goodness!) dolphin aquarium in Korea. I say thank goodness because the dolphins have a very tiny bathtub to swim around in 24/7. Yes, they give a few shows to break up monotony, but they are clearly unhappy. They swim in circles, mostly counter-clockwise, smacking their heads repeatedly on the water surface. This behavior disturbed me so much that I googled it and found that, yes, it is tell-tale behavior for boredom, unease, and stress. Spectators might think that the dolphins are playing but the creatures really have no where to play. They have to swim, but there's not much space for their big bodies to swim in. Spectators come in for the 15-30 minute shows, maybe play some on their smart phones while waiting, then watch, and immediately stream out. The visitor area is larger than the aquarium, and the dolphins never leave. The aquarium in the Ecology Experience Hall might be fun and entertaining for people as they flow quickly past, but it's no picnic for the several dolphins that are confined in there for life. Not much of an ecology center if you ask me.

Whales and Dolphins in Korean Waters

This list of whales was painted on a wall at the Jangsaengpo Whale Museum. I rather doubt a few of them were ever in Korean waters, but I didn't make this list. It seems that the listing is based on sightings of the creatures in Korean waters at some point in history.

In any case, the whales/dolphins/porpoises in red are the ones that typically are seen migrating off the Ulsan coast.
보리고래 - (Sel whale) 18m, 30ton
대왕고래 - (Blue whale) 30m, 179ton
쿤부리고래 - (Baird's beaked whale) 12m, 1.2ton
향고래 - (Sperm whale) 18m, 57ton
귀신고래 - (Gray whale) 16m, 35ton - (spring & late fall)
참고래 - (Fin whale) 26.8m, 75ton
밍크고래 - (Minke whale) 8.6m, 12ton (spring & late fall)
긴부리고래 - (Spinner dolphin) 2.4m, 90kg
북방긴수염고래 - (Northern right whale) 18m, 100ton
부리아드고래 - (Bryde's whale) 12m, 22ton
쇠돌고래 - (Harbor porpoise) 2m, 90kg
은행이빨부리고래 - (Gingko-toothed beaked whale) 4.9m, 2ton
상광이 -  (Finless porpoise) 1.9m, 45kg (spring)
흑등고래 - (Humpback whale) 16m, 35ton
고양이고래 - (Melon-headed whale) 2.6m, 275kg
범고래 - (Killer whale) 9.8m, 10ton
들고양이고래 - (Pygmy killer whale) 2.6m, 225kg
참돌고래 - (Common dolphin) 2.3m, 135kg (winter)
까치동고래 - (Dall's porpoise) 2.4m, 220kg
낫돌고래 - (Pacific white-sided dolphin) 2.3m, 150kg
점박이돌고래 - (Pantropical spotted dolphin) 2.6m, 120kg
혹부리고래 - (Blainville's beaked whale) 4.7m, 1ton
민부리고래 - (Cuvler's beaked whale) 7.5m, 3ton
꼬미향고래 - (Pygmy sperm whale) 3.4m, 400kg
들쇠고래 - (Short-finned pilot whale) 6.1m, 3.6ton
큰이빨부리고래 - (Stejneger's beaked whale) 5m, 1.5ton
흑범고래 - (False killer whale) 6.1m, 2.2ton
큰돌고래 - (Bottle-nose dolphin) 3.9m, 600kg
추돌고래 - (Northern right whale dolphin) 3.1m, 115kg
줄발이돌고래 - (Striped dolphin) 2.6m, 156kg
흰고래 - (Beluga / white whale) 4.5m, 1.5ton
쿤머리돌고래 - (Risso's dolphin) 4m, 500kg
쇠향고래 - (Dwarf sperm whale) 2.7m, 272kg
뱀머리돌고래 - (Rough-toothed dolphin) 2.8m, 150kg
Whale food and products

This information was found in the museum. Supposedly whale meat is only served legally in Jangsaengpo, and people flock from all parts of Korea to have the whale meat eating experience. Though it is common knowledge that whale meat is only served in Jangsaengpo, a couple of years ago there was a flower festival in Seoul and in the festival were some very strange foods like baby chicks fried whole. Whale meat was also served, and I remember being completely surprised because I knew of the Korean moratorium on whaling.

Though there is a moratoriam, whales are washed up, hit by boats, "die" in undocumented ways and there is always plenty of whale meat in Jangsaengpo. Makes me wonder... Anyway, the posting introducing the types of whale meat:
Food Made of Whale Meat 
Whale meat is famous for its 12 different tastes and colors with parts. Dishes made from whale meat vary, including assorted raw whale meat, whale stew, steamed whale meat, whale steak, canned whale meat, and whale curry.
The whale dish of Ulsan won the Bronze Prize in the 2nd Seafood Dish Competition in the 2006 Seoul World Tourism Food Exhibition. Winning the prize became the momentum to further the development of a special cuisine made from whale meat.
Foods derived from whale include edible oil, margarine, capsules, calcium, bacon, sausage, canned food, bread and cake, which are mainly derived from the whale's fat, cartilage, bone, belly and red meat.
Whale meat is selected as the leading delicacy in Ulsan, and it has become such a favorite that visitors to Ulsan are said to have been treated well only when they have tasted whale meat.
Whale meat drew national attention as the Jangsaengpo-dong, Nam-gu became famous as the largest whaling outpost in Korea, attracting whaling aficionados to Ulsan. When whaling was prohibited in 1986 and whaling disappeared, Ulsan became the only place where you can taste real whale meat in Korea.
Whale meat is good in the prevention of adult diseases because of the fat and high protein content. The meat is healthful and rich in iron and other ingredients, and it is often prescribed for dermatitis and allergy.
Jangsaengpo is famous as the place in Korea where cuisine based on whale meat was first developed. In the heydays of whaling, there were about 30 restaurants in Ulsan serving whale meat. these days, such restaurants can only be found in Jangsaengpo.
And of course there are (or were) many products made from whale meat and product:

click to enlarge
Location and other nearby related attractions

The museum and ecology hall are located right on the waterfront. Across the small street facing the waterfront is a string of a dozen or more restaurants all marketing whale meat in some form. I wanted a vegetarian meal but there was none to be had, so I had to take the bus back into Ulsan to get my veggies. The closest dish to vegetarian that I could have gotten was bibimbop with the raw whale meat removed. It didn't look appealing without its central attraction.

Pricey ... but that's one of the costs of novelty.
Jangsaengpo is recognized as the migration site of Gray Whales and supposedly the only spot from the peninsula from which whales can be seen. Therefore, this spot has been designated Natural Monument No. 126.

For those wanting to see whales (of course pay attention to seasons - noted in the red characters in the list above), then there are two boat routes visitors can take to go whale spotting.

The present cost for an adult to go whale-spotting is W15,000 (route on right) or W20,000 (left pictured route).
For more info,  //  (032) 226-1990~1
For bus numbers getting here and to some nearby sites, go to Ulsan Tour of Ancient History: Munmu Tombs, Petroglyphs, Whaling.

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