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Blubber hook

Date: c 1850
Dimensions:
Overall: 34 x 519 x 56 mm, 1.15 kg
Display Dimensions: 97 x 125 x 519 mm
Medium: Iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Blubber hook
Object No: 00003722

User Terms

    Description
    This blubber hook was used in 19th century whaling. Carcasses were hauled across the flensing deck by hooks and toggles. Long hooks were used to drag blubber pieces into the tanks for boiling.
    SignificanceThis blubber hook is an excellent example of an important yet common item used in the whaling industry.
    HistoryAfter killing the whale the first processing task was to strip off the valuable oil-producing blubber which lay beneath the skin (flensing). Early deep sea whalers towed the whale to the side of the ship and stripped the blubber with large flensing knives. It was then hauled on board for processing and the carcass thrown overboard. Early bay whalers used a similar process, towing the whales to shore stations where they were flensed in the shallow waters prior to being processed on land.

    No part of the whale was wasted in the modern whaling process. The dead whale was hauled up tail first onto the flensing deck by a massive cable. Teams of flensers started from the head and stripped the blubber and then hacked it into manageable blocks. Pressurised steam digesters separated the oil from the liquid product which was dried, ground into powder and sold as whale meal for animal feed.

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