South Georgia Island

Page 4

A whale alongside the factory ship

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Before the advent of large factory ships with the ability to haul the whale on board immediately after the kill, the whales were hauled alongside the ship and processed. This led to inefficient usage of the kill. Like any fishing operation, the seabirds can be seen in this photo, scavenging for whatever they can get. These birds are probably Giant Petrels (Macronectes Gigantius, or Macronectes Halli). These operations must have been very hazardous. One slip and the worker would be in the water, and with temperatures not much above freezing all year round, and wearing thick clothing, there was a great danger of drowning.

Capt. Williams bya whale

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Here we can see Captain Williams in front of a whale. You can clearly see the balleen. Balleen was used, amongst other things, for womens corsets. Whales gave us a number of different products - oils for lighting and lubrication, and were also used in the production of soaps, varnish and cosmetics. The bones were used to make fertilizers.

Over the years the type of whale hunted changed as the numbers decreased. First was the Humpback, then the Blue (said to produce the finest oils) followed by the Fin and the Sei. Gradually, the whales became protected, and now numbers are believed to be increasing slowly.

A whale being flensed





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