Captain Nils Larsen and the Whaling Industry Throughout Norwegian History

Captain Nils Larsen and the Whaling Industry Throughout Norwegian History
Captain Nils Larsen and the Whaling Industry Throughout Norwegian History
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For most people throughout history, the whaling industry mainly existed to obtain parts of the whale for human use; however, for people like Captain Nils Larsen, the industry was a way of life. Many people in countries such as Norway, Japan, Iceland, Canada, and the United States worked as whalers during the 19th and 20th centuries. Here are some things that you might find interesting about the whaling industry through the eyes of early 20th-century Captain Larsen.

Norwegian Whaling Began in the 9th Century:

Whaling has a strong tradition in Norway that dates all the way back to the 9th century. With a coastline measuring approximately 63,000 miles, Norway has always been an ideal location for maritime activities and industries including the production of fish to sell at home and abroad. Generally, whalers of this early time period consisted of independent groups of a few people rather than the larger-scale operations seen beginning in the 1800s.

A Norwegian Developed the Modern Harpoon:

Whalers use a tool called the harpoon, which has a spear-like shape containing a sharp end, to catch their prey. Although harpoons existed for hundreds of years before, a Norwegian named Svend Foyn developed a version of the tool in the late 19th century that fishers still use today. His version uses a gun to aim the harpoon and allow it to travel at the high speeds needed to reach stealthy sea creatures.

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Norway Sent Expeditions to Antarctica:

In the early 20th century, Norway sent whaling expeditions to Antarctica in the interest of finding new hunting territory. Nils Larsen was one of the captains who made their way to this remote region. Larsen had such a significant influence in the region and back home in Norway that there are landmarks bearing his name in Antarctica, such as Mount Larsen and Nils Glacier.

Norwegians Cultivated Various Products From Whales:

One reason that whaling in countries such as Norway became so popular is that whales had lots of potential for use in different products. For example, people ate the meat from whales and used the oil from their blubber to light lamps before having access to electricity. Items such as paint and soap produced prior to the development of synthetic ingredients also likely contained whale blubber.

Norway’s whaling tradition developed out of necessity and is a large part of the nation’s history.


People best know Nils Larsen for being a sea captain who led whaling ships to Antarctica. Born on June 19, 1900, and a native of Sandar, Norway, Captain Larsen successfully assisted Norway in annexing two islands off the coast of Antarctica. In addition, Larsen participated as a first mate in the well-known Norvegia excursion.

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