Relics from a century ago, #bluewhale
bones decorate the rocky shores on a remote island in the Antarctica
Peninsula, a haunting reminder of the whaling years. Nearly a century
ago the blue whale, the largest animal in earths history, was nearly
hunted to extinction. Now, some hundred years later, the waters of
Antarctica are being fished for something much smaller, Krill. These
tiny shrimp are the life line to the vast majority of animals on the
Antarctica peninsula. Over the years Krill have become fished heavily by
man, used primarily for their high omega 3 nutrients. Its incredibly
important that we make good decisions regarding these fishing guidelines
internationally to ensure that the numbers are sustainable for the wild
residents of Antarctica - some 11 million+ breeding pairs of penguins
alone depend on krill, as well numerous species of whale and seals. Shot
#onassignment for @natgeo / @sea_legacy@paulnicklen@cristinamittermeier@andy_mann@craigwelch@ianvaso@shanemoorefilms
Manufactured in Peterhead c.late 19th century. Percussion muzzle-loader firing a steel harpoon, swivel mount, pistol grip, hinged and latched brass cover protecting the large hammer with two percussion nipples to reliably set off the large gunpowder charge, brass beluga decorative plate. These monstrous boat-mounted guns would fire special harpoon that allows a line to be anchored to it, with its fittings sliding down the harpoon’s shaft as it exits the barrel before being carried away into some unfortunate sea mammal.
they watch the watchers
and their landward world
with bated breath
and misty spouts
rising and breaching
diving and reaching
with the wavy rumbling floats
remembering too well
the wailing days
of harpoons and hell
red waters and the flotsam dead
the price that weighed so heavily
on their heads
now the water-walkers
give chase as if for sport
and the whales
watch the watchers
warily ever after
and praise The Deep
for a lasting standoff
to their last stand.
Manufactured by Eben Pierce in New Bedford, Massachusets for the 1883
International Fisheries Exhibition in London, then donated to the Smithsonian because that’s the kind of shit they’re into apparently. 1″ Pierce bomb lance - an explosive harpoon with a percussion fuse, single shot break action, all gunmetal with fixed skeleton stock. While researching these strange whaling guns I came to realize just how fucked up the human mind needs to get to catch huge fish-like things. For instance did you know harpoon blades switched inside their target for maximum grappling ability ? I certainly didn’t.
Whaling before bronze grenade launchers happened for some reason.
Bowhead Whale survives harpoon attack 130 years ago to become ‘world’s oldest mammal’
Bowhead whales are known to be the longest-living mammals, living for over 200 years. In May 2007, a 15 m (49 ft) specimen caught off the Alaskan coast was discovered with the head of an explosive harpoon embedded deep under its neck blubber. The 3.5-inch (89 mm) arrow-shaped projectile was manufactured in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a major whaling center, around 1890, suggesting the animal may have survived a similar hunt more than a century ago.
Manufactured by Selmar Eggers c.1878 in New Bedford, Massachusets - serial number 198. 1″ Pierce bomb lance propelled by a blank rifle cartridge, single shot falling block, gunmetal everything. You might be thinking hey neat harpoon gun, but that would be underestimating that more refined age when people looked at a whale and went “I want to blow up that smug motherfucker to hell”. And they did.
American-made, c.19th century. Steel with wooden grip, 150cm long with 7cm wide blade. The head spade was used to cut into the thick spine of a whale once aboard the whaling ship, severing the head for further processing. It shows not only that whaling was a brutal and terrifying process, but also that firing an arrow in a whale-sized animal’s head will do absolutely nothing to kill it. You know who you are you Elven bitch.
The Greenland Whale (Bowhead) - Balaena mysticetus
It turns out bowheads aren’t especially fond of being hunted. Who’d have guessed?
Bowhead whales are members of the Balaenidae family, and until the early 2000s, were believed to be a right whale (specifically, the Greenland right whale). Morphological and genetic analysis proved that they belong to their own genus. However, they’re still very similar to the right whales. They’re robust, don’t have “chin grooves”, and tend towards colder waters.
The head of the Bowhead is 40% of its body length. Yikes.
The Naturalist’s Library, Vol VII: Mammalia. Sir William Jardine, 1843.
“Haul in—haul in!” cried Stubb to the bowsman! and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat up to him, while yet the boat was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his flank, Stubb, firmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flying fish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale’s horrible wallow, and then ranging up for another fling.