In fact, in days gone by, we humans had a markedly different attitude towards gray whales than the generally benevolent feelings we have towards them now. In the 19th century, gray whales were known as “devil fish” and were greatly feared by fishermen.
Actually, it was whalers who had the most to fear. When they harpooned gray whale calves, their enraged mothers would attack, and many small whaling boats were destroyed in this way. In the mid-19th century, some 8,000 gray whales were killed. Even the safe haven of San Ignacio was violated from 1859 onwards, when Captain Charles Scammon’s whaling fleet virtually wiped out the population of gray whales.