The slow-swimming bowhead whale, Baleana mysticetus and the North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, were hunted and harpooned from whale boats known to the Basque as chalupas. They then towed them to the station. They stripped the blubber from the carcass of the whales, cut it into chunks, then carried to the tryworks where it was rendered into oil in large copper cauldrons. Once rendered the oil was ladled into barrels that were assembled at the station from parts brought from the west coast of Europe. The barrels were loaded aboard the whaling ships and at the end of the season shipped back to European markets.
After several decades of prosperity, Basque whaling in Canada began to diminish in the final years of the 16th century and all but ceased by about 1620. Factors that contributed to the decline are many and may have included: over hunting, climatic change, economic viability, political circumstances, shortages of resources after the Spanish Armada disaster of 1588 and the discovery of new whaling grounds at Spitsbergen. (Extract from Parks Canada, 1997, Commemorative Integrity Statement.Red Bay National Historic Site. Parks Canada, Ottawa).