Info: Harpoon Kill Info

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 14 Apr 1995 20:33:29

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Info: Harpoon Kill Info
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From:         Frederick Sharpe <>
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In-Reply-To:  <> from "Keith Ronald" at
              Apr 12, 95 10:28:46 am
Concerning Kieth Ronald's request for information on the time it takes a
whale to be rendered unconscious from a harpoon strike.  This is
not currently a hot topic in behavioral ecology journals, however, back
isssues of the Scientific Reports of the Whales Research Institute (Tokyo)
offer some insight into this question.
An article on the occurence of minke whales off the coat of Brazil
(1984, 34:17-38) states that the harpooned animals are first brought
along side the ship, then the electric shock is applied. It reads:
"Initially intermittent shocks are applied to which the whales respond
violently.  After these, a continuous current is applied for three
minutes during which even the strongest whale becomes restrained, apart
from some lashing of the flukes. This is soon followed by a drooping of
the lower jaw".
Another study found that sei, fin, and sperm whales vomited their
stomach contents during "the long restless chasing of the catcher boats".
(1971, 23:27-36)
It was also found that depth to which a grenade tiped harpoon penentrated
the blubber of a whale was a function of its diameter, mass, and velocity
(1951, 6:199-207)
The Japenese whaling industry was also interested in studies on the
intelligence of cetaceans in the waters off of the Ryukyuan Islands. They
"It is still unknown if whether the humpback whales will be intelligent
enough to change their migration routes because of the increase of catch
intensity" (1960, 15:1-16)
Some illumination on the social biology of killer whales was also provided
from the more than 500 orca that were harpooned in the waters around
Japan in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Nishiwaki & Handa
(1958,13:85-96) write:
"In spite of their fierceness, killer whale has an ardent passion for
their children and comrades, and they strongly co-operate against any
enimies or foods. So that they do not readily disperse. When a member of
their group is killed, it is possible to catch others without moving the
catcher boat far away."
Other research findings include whale recipies where it was noted that
meat sliced and seasoned with bitter orange juice, ginger soy, or grated
radish "tastes very nice" (1952 7:51-67).  It also mentioned that whale meat
brought back from the Antarctic Ocean is nice, even if eaten raw.
In 1961, the Japanese Whaling industry also reports on the impacts of
their activities on western north pacific stock of
the humpback whale (which is nearly extinct) by stating:
"Judging from the results of the biological survey the stock of
the humpback whales did not suffer heavy damages through whaling. The
stock of whales is considered in fairly stable condition. It is suitable
to give the highest limit of the number of catch as the quota".
The Scientific Reports of the Whales Research Institute was
published from 1947 to 1988.
Fred Sharpe
Simon Fraser University