Whaling Station, Gray's Harbor, Washington
Whales and Whaling pictures

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Early 1900s real photo postcard showing a whaling station at Grays Harbor, Washington. One thing that has struck me in getting together pictures and information for this gallery is the strange subject matter that people used to consider appropriate for postcards in the past - maybe even today I guess - I'm not a collector. They are useful as they last longer than other pictures and are an excellent historical record. Here humpback whales are awaiting processing at an onshore whaling station in Washington state. They can identified due to coloration and in particular for the long pale flipper seen just below the water surface at the bottom of the picture, no other whale has such relatively long flippers as the Humpback.

They appear bloated as they have been pumped up with air to keep them afloat after death and before being processed. This practice was one of the techniques which made it possible to start hunting the large baleen whales which tend to sink once caught.

The downside of it is that introducing air (and so oxygen) into the whale carcass means that bacteria in particular from the gut can multiply all the faster and so processing has to take place as soon as possible. If the whale was left for too long like this before processing, the bacteria would produce gas as they multiplied inside the dead whale eventually causing the carcass to explode - most unpleasant

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Picture used courtesy NOAA