For centuries whaling was carried out with men using harpoons and
small rowing boats but prior to the 1900's
there was some steam whale catchers operating from Norway in Northern
latitudes. Around the early 1890's two expeditions set out for the
Antarctic one led by the Norwegian vessels the Jason which was captained
by C.A.Larsen (who later became the founding entrepreneur in Antarctic
whaling) With the other expedition leaving on the Balaena from Dundee,
both of these vessels utilised small rowing boats to catch the whales.
However from 1904 whaling started in earnest
in the southern latitudes with the establishment of whaling stations
in South Georgia. The first whale catcher to operate from South
Georgia was named The Fortuna, was operated by Company De Pesca
from Grytviken, this was a comparatively small vessel, at approximately
180-200 tons compared to some of the later whale catchers which
weighed in excess of 500 tons. Other whaling stations, Leith, Stromness
and Husvik opened but Christian Salvesen which ultimately became
the biggest whaling company in the world operated from Leith Harbour.
The whaling was carried out just offshore of South Georgia because
the abundance of whales within a few miles of the stations.