Andrews Whaling Expedition to Korea of the American Museum of Natural History (1911-1912)

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Exist Dates

1911 - 1912

Biographical or Historical Note

Andrews requested permission to to go to Korea in order to ascertain whether the California Gray Whale was extinct, as was generally thought, and to collect specimens of marine mammals. He was authorized to conduct the expedition by Professor Osborn who was the director of the museum at the time and the museum financed that part of the trip. In order to conduct the necessary observations, Andrews used his existing relationship with the Japanese Whaling Company that he established during his previous trip to the Orient. The company allowed Andrews to study whales at their whaling station on the Korean coast. Andrews planned to follow the study of the whales on the coast with an expedition into the interior of the Korean peninsula. The interior was generally unexplored and Andrews wanted to map it and to collect mammal and bird specimens. Andrews had to raise the money for the second half of the trip. At the end of the expedition, Andrews briefly visited China to do some sightseeing. After that he travelled to Europe through Russia, stopping in Moscow. On the way to New York, Andrews also visited Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

While on a collecting trip to Japan in 1910, Andrews learned of an existence of a whale, called by the Japanese "Devil-fish". The description of the mammal, that was hunted by the Japanese on the coast of Korea, reminded Andrews of the California Gray Whale, which was thought to be extinct. Andrews resolved to come back to the Far East and to confirm his guess. At the end of 1911, Andrews left New York for Korea in order to study whales and other marine mammals. The Museum allocated $4000 towards the expedition, $2000 were contributed by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington (14, pp. 41-42), and Andrews raised a further $4000 from private philanthropists. Andrews spent the months of January and February of 1912 at Ulsan, a Japanese whaling station on the coast of Korea. While stationed there, Andrews proved that the "Devil-fish" was indeed the Gray Whale (10)(13). Andrews collected two Gray Whale skeletons, one of which he sent to the Museum and the second one to the Smithsonian. (14, p. 42) After the end of his stay in Ulsan, Andrews visited Seul and organized an expedition to explore the Northern regions of Korean Peninsula. With 4 Korean helpers and a Japanese-Korean interpreter he treked through dense forests to the foot of the Long White Mountain (Paektu-san) (13). From there the expedition walked to the Yalu river. From that point, Andrews dismissed his men and floated down the river on a raft. In that manner he reached Antung at the mouth of the river. During the expedition Andrews collected specimens of animals and birds, took still images and recorded a film. (4)(13) After finishing up the Korean trip, Andrews decided to use the oportunity to visit China. He briefly visited Beijing and the Great Wall. (13, p. 115) From Beijing Andrews sailed to Shanghai and Hong Kong. When in Hong Kong, a friend who was travelling to Europe through Russia, convinced Andrews to join him. Andrews took the trans-Siberian railroad to Moscow where he spend two months at a house of an aristocratic Russian friend, hunting and participating in the social life. From there Andrews travelled for two months through Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark before boarding a ship for New York.


    (1) Allen, J. A. (Joel Asaph), Roy Chapman Andrews, "Mammals collected in Korea", Bulletin of the AMNH volume 32, article 24 (1913):427-436
    (2) American Museum Journal volume XI, no. 8 (December 1911):309
    (3) American Museum Journal volume XII, no. 7 (November 1912):259-267
    (4) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports, no. 44, 1912. New York: American Museum of Natural History (February 1913):18-19, 49
    (5) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports, no. 45, 1913. New York: American Museum of Natural History (February 1914):56
    (6) Andrews, Roy Chapman, Journals, v. 4 (1912)
    (7) Andrews, Roy Chapman, "A Whaling Expedition in Korea", Scientific American Supplement volume LXXIV, number 1928 (December 1912):376-377
    (8) Andrews, Roy Chapman, "A Japanese Whale Hunt", Outing Magazine. Volume LXII (April-September, 1913):70-79.
    (9) Andrews, Roy Chapman, "Monographs of the Pacific Cetacea", Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History. New Series, Volume I, Part V. (March, 1914)
    (10) Andrews, Roy Chapman, "Monographs of the Pacific Cetacea", Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History. New Series, Volume I, Part VI. (April, 1916)
    (11) Andrews, Roy Chapman, Whale Hunting with Gun and Camera: A Naturalist's Account of the Modern Shore-whaling Industry, of Whales and Their Habits, and of Hunting Experiences in Various Parts of the World. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1928
    (12) Andrews, Roy Chapman, Exploring with Andrews: A Narrative of a Life of Exploration; Selections for Younger Readers From the Writings of Roy Chapman Andrews Leader of the Central Asiatic Expedition and Director of the American Museum of Natural History. New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1938
    (13) Andrews, Roy Chapman, Under a Lucky Star: A Lifetime of Adventure. New York: The Viking Press, 1943
    (14) Archer, Jules, Science Explorer: Roy Chapman Andrews. New York: Julian Messner, 1968
    (15) Schladitz, Lars, "Whaling, Science, and Trans-Maritime Networks, 1910–1914", Transcultural Studies, [S.I.], n.1 (July, 2014):164-189, Date accessed: 02 mar. 2018.


  • 1912 - 1912: Andrews Whaling Expedition to Japan and Korea of the American Museum of Natural History (1911-1912)
  • 1912 January - 1912 March: Studying and collecting marine mammal specimens at Ulsan
  • 1912 March - 1912 June: Travelling through in the interior of the Korean Peninsula


YokohamaExternal link
Andrews landed in Yokohama, Japan (13)
HakataExternal link
Andrews boarded a ship in Hakata, Japan
Han'gukExternal link
South Korea
ChosŏnExternal link
North Korea
UlsanExternal link
Location of a Japanese whaling station in Korea, where Andrews researched whales for 2 months (10)(13)
SeulExternal link
Changbai ShanExternal link
Long White Mountain, Paektu-san
Amnok-kangExternal link
Yalu river, Andrews rafted down the river to the coast
Tumen RiverExternal link
DandongExternal link
Antung, a city at the mouth of the Yalu river.
ChŏngjinExternal link
Chon Chin, Seshin - starting place of Andrews' expedition into the interior of Korea
MusanExternal link
One of the cities visited by Andrews during the expedition
BeijingExternal link
ZhongguoExternal link
Wanli ChangchengExternal link
Great Wall of China
ShanghaiExternal link
Hong KongExternal link
RossijaExternal link
MoskvaExternal link
SuomiExternal link
SverigeExternal link
NorgeExternal link
DanmarkExternal link

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Andrews Whaling Expedition to Korea of the American Museum of Natural History (1911-1912)
associated dates: 1911-1912

Andrews' expedition started on South-East coast of the Korean peninsula. This portion of the expedition was devoted to proving that California Gray Whale was not extinct, as was previously thought. The second half of the expedition involved Andrew's exploration of the area in the North region of the Korean peninsula around the Long White Mountain.
Andrews, Roy Chapman, 1884-1960.
associated dates: 1921-1930

Leader and Zoologist; Andrews was responsible coming up with the idea for the expedition. While the Museum financed the first half of the trip, Andrews was responsible for raising money for the exploration of the area around the Long White Mountain. Andrews eventually became a well-known figure and director of the American Museum of Natural History.
Toyo Hogei Kabushiki KaishaExternal link
associated dates: 1909-1912

東洋捕鯨株式会社. Also referred to at Oriental Whaling Company. A whaling company based in Osaka. The company was very helpful to Andrews. It allowed Andrews to stay at its whaling stations and to measure and examine the whales that were brought there by the whaling boats.
Younghusband, Francis Edward, Sir, 1863-1942External link
Sir Francis Yonghusband's book about his travels around the "Long White Mountain" inspired Andrews to organize the second half of his Korean trip in order to explore that area of the Korean peninsula.

Written by: Maya Naunton
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