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Hauling a Whale up the Slipway - Whales and Whaling pictures 60

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A fin whale being hauled aboard a factory ship, here reaching the top of the slipway. The pleats that mark out the rorquals can be easily seen in the picture.

The invention of the slipway and onboard flensing was another great step forwards in the technology of industrial whaling. Prior to this, whales had been flensed by the side of the whaling ships, with perhaps just occasional smaller catches being hauled aboard using cranes or winches. The advantages are numerous allowing whales to be flensed in sea conditions that would have made outboard flensing impossible. It also meant that the whales could be worked on by many men at the same time and allowed for the disarticulation of parts of the whales being taken to other parts of the deck for further processing using bone-saws for instance.

None of the whale was in danger of being lost this way and the risks taken by the flensers were reduced considerably as was the improvement of their working conditions, though both still remained hard and fraught with risk from blades, saws, winches, cables and pieces of whale weighing tonnes each.

As ever in any of man's endeavours, forward advances in technology were more often put to work to improve profit, rather than the lot of the workers involved.


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