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Cutting in, cutting diagrams for flensing sperm and bowhead whales
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Cutting in the bowhead and sperm whales Drawings by Capt. C. M. Scammon and Capt. W. M. Barnes.

The processing of whales has always been a very precise process initially involving the insertion of "toggles" large pieces of wood attached to ropes or chains inserted into holes cut into the whale and attached to winches to lift parts of the whale as they were cut away or turn the whale round. The purpose of the toggle was to spread the load, so that the chain or rope didn't rip through the flesh and come out.

These cutting diagrams are for the outboard flensing of whales. Note that in the body, after the head, the cuts are made around the whale in a spiral. This allows for continuous removal of the blubber "blanket" as the carcass was turned over in the water, being cut off in convenient pieces for the onboard flensers to further cut the blubber for processing in the try-pots.

Image courtesy NOAA


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