ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Harpoon

Updated on May 21, 2010

The harpoon is a long, spearlike weapon. Early harpoons were hurled by hand, but many modern ones are shot from guns. Such harpoons are made of iron and sometimes weigh more than 100 pounds. The harpoon was adapted from a primitive pronged spear and used for centuries by hunters of whales and other sea animals. Whalemen used the harpoon to penetrate the body of a whale and attach him to the whaleboat by the line. The whale was then killed with a lance.

The harpoon used by European whalers in the 17th century had a double-barbed head, a shaft, and a wooden pole set into a socket in the shaft. This was the standard design until about 1848, when Lewis Temple, a Negro blacksmith from New Bedford, adapted the design of the Eskimo harpoon, which had a bone head that became detached from the pole after the whale was harpooned. Unlike the Eskimo harpoon however, the American designed head did not dislodge or come free.

Many harpoons have a bomb, or exploding head, attached to the forward end of the shaft. The bomb is exploded by a fuse after the harpoon has entered the body of the whale.

Toggle Harpoon

The Temple harpoon had a barbed 7 inch (18 cm) swivel head called a toggle, a 3.5 foot (1 meter) iron shaft attached to the toggle by a strong rivet, and a 6 foot (1.8 meter) wooden pole set into a socket in the shaft. A slender wooden pin was inserted in a hole through the toggle and the shaft to hold the toggle straight as it entered the whale's body. When the pull on the line snapped the wooden pin, the toggle swung on its rivet to a position at right angles to the shaft, thus holding the harpoon firmly in the whale.

    Photo by Stahlkocher

Harpoon Guns

Harpoon guns were invented in England in the early decades of the 18th century. The Greener gun was the most commonly used gun during this period, but the whalers still preferred the hand harpoon. In the 1840's, the large-bore Brand shoulder gun was invented. The American Captain Eben Pierce revolutionized such weapons with his darting gun, introduced in arctic whaling in 1865. It had a stockless gun barrel affixed to the harpoon pole and shaft, and a heavy iron wire protruding along the gun barrel and extending under the shaft. When the harpoon was thrust into the whale, the wire was shoved back, setting off the gun trigger and firing a bomb lance that exploded after entering the whale. In the 1860's, Svend Foyn, a Norwegian, invented a harpoon with hinged barbs in the head that spread open when shot into a whale from a cannon. The barbs crushed a glass tube filled with sulfuric acid, igniting a fuse that exploded gunpowder in the harpoon tip. Foyn's harpoon ushered in the era of modern whaling.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)