The start of the flensing process on a factory ship
Whales and Whaling pictures
Here a large blue whale is seen in the early stages of flensing.
Flensing was another highly skilled job on board a whaling ship, perhaps second only to that of a gunner, a chief flenser would be held in great respect by the other whalemen. The first cut was often made as the whale was being hauled onto the ship.
The chief flenser would often position himself near the top of the slipway and make his first incision through several inches of blubber as the whale passed by, allowing the winches to do the work, rather than him having to walk along the whale. He would then begin to make other cuts climbing onto the whale partly by the cutting of steps in the whales blubber, like a mountaineer cuts steps in a snow slope and partly by the use of spikes in his boots.