Harpoons were not intended to kill a whale, but to attach a line by implanting the harpoon’s barbed head into the animal’s blubber.

HarpoonThe whale would fight the harpoon and eventually tire, allowing the crew in the whaleboat to move in close for the kill. Sometimes the whale’s reaction to being harpooned was so vehement that it twisted the iron into knots, as is the case with the harpoon at left.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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