• Try your hand at safely navigating a ship in this interactive computer game. Steer clear of the buoys! © Mark Sinclair / Phatsheep Photography
  • Mementos of Shetland whalers working far from home; painted whale teeth from the South Atlantic. Photo © Didier Piquer © Khanoppée
  • A 1933 Singer 9 sports saloon, bought with wages earned from whaling. Seamen could earn enough mopney to buy things that wages earned in Shetland couldnt.

Maritime and Fisheries

Follow fishing through times of boom and bust, and discover how Shetlanders relied on wages from work on merchant ships to support their families.

Changes in technologies have produced larger boats and bigger catches. Some sectors of the industry have fared better than others, with many people having work ashore in processing.  Thousands of Shetlanders made their living sailing deep-sea in the merchant fleet, and island homes had many a foreign curio to display. 

Navigating the busy sea routes around Shetland could be dangerous. A dramatic display shows debris from ships wrecked on the islands, and you’ll discover how local people risked their lives to save others.

Themes include: Pelagic and whitefish fisheries, smuggling, whaling, merchant marine, shipwrecks, lighthouses and lifesaving.

Highlights include:

  • Singer car – This 1930s car was bought by a Shetlander with his wages from the whaling.
  • Breeches buoy – This contraption was used to save the lives of mariners.
  • Leg – Greenland whalers endured terrible conditions; a sailor from Nesting lost his leg through frostbite.


back to Galleries