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Fastened to the whale by harpoon and line, firing a bomb lance
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Boat fastened to whale by harpoon and line; killing the whale with bomb lance From painting by J. S. Ryder

Harpooning the whale was only the beginning. The enraged whale would then swim off as fast as it were able, the crew of the boat would then have to play this 50 - 100 tonne "fish" until it were exhausted or nearly so, the final kill would come by "lancing" the whale. Initially this was done up close and personal by a man with a sharpened lance attached to a long heavy wooden handle, several feet long, trying to penetrate deep into the vital organs. As technology advanced, so attempts were made for the kill to become more remote and so relatively safer, firearms were brought into use, the "bomblance" was an explosive charge fired into the whale that was to explode and kill it.

Image courtesy NOAA


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