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Modern Harpoon - Invented by Svend Foyn

Svend Foyn-Modern Harpoon
: 1864
: Norway
: Weapons

About Invention

A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing, whaling, sealing, and other marine hunting to catch fish or large marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal and securing it with barbs or toggling claws, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal. A harpoon can also be used as a weapon.

Svend Foyn patented his grenade harpoon gun in 1870. He modified existing designs and utilized ideas developed by Erik Eriksen. It consisted of a cannon that fired a barbed explosive head harpoon. Aimed and fired, the harpoon barb would hook into the whale. A moment later an explosive charge in the head of the harpoon would inflict a mortal wound. Then the whale was retrieved by a winch. Once alongside the whaling vessel, the whale was pumped full of air to keep it afloat, as the whale was moved to the location of processing.

Spearfishing with poles (harpoons) was widespread in palaeolithic times.Cosquer cave in Southern France contains cave art over 16,000 years old, including drawings of seals which appear to have been harpooned. In Zaire, harpoon points have been found in the Katanda region that were used to spear fish perhaps 80,000 years ago.

The Greek historian Polybius (ca 203 BC–120 BC), in his Histories, describes hunting for swordfish by using a harpoon with a barbed and detachable head.Copper harpoons were known to the seafaring Harappans well into antiquity.Early hunters in India include the Mincopie people, aboriginal inhabitants of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, who have used harpoons with long cords for fishing since early times.


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