Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/252

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from the increased difficulty of taking whales. Formerly, in the early and flourishing state of the fishery, the fish were found in bays, and open water, numerous, unwary, very accessible, and easily taken by the methods first practised, and still in use. But the increased numbers of ships fitted out in this branch of commerce, have not only diminished the quantity of fish, but greatly added to the annoyance of those yet remaining; the perpetual alarm to which the whales are now exposed, has caused them to abandon their former favourite haunts, for places of greater security. Whales are naturally timid, and they have from repeated attacks, also become more shy, (many from ineffectual wounds by harpoons which have not held,) so that the fish are now but rarely to be approached close enough to be struck by the harpoon from the hand.

The hand harpoon is thus constructed:

Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821, page 198.png

It consists of three conjoined parts, denominated the socket, shank, and mouth; the latter including the pointed arms, termed the withers, which are six inches distant from each other. This implement can, of course, be used only at a very short distance from the fish; and the unaided power of the arm, however close to the object, is always insufficient to pierce the prey to a vital part; but, if the harpoon be thrown at a fish, the impetus is then often inadequate to penetrate even to those parts, which afford sufficient hold to the harpoon to resist the powerful efforts of the fish to extricate itself; in this case, the retraction of the harpoon is almost of certain occurrence.

It will be observed, that the arms or withers of this har-