On the Water

Whaler's Monkey Belt

After a whale was captured and killed, its carcass was towed by the whaleboat to the side of the mother ship for processing. Cutting up the whale was done by crewmen standing on a wooden plank, or cutting stage, rigged out over the side of the ship so that they could stand directly over the body. Crewmen used this canvas “monkey belt” to secure themselves while they stripped the whale of its blubber. It was dangerous and slippery work. If a sailor slid into the water he risked drowning or being attacked by sharks looking for an easy meal.

ID Number:
Place Made:
New Bedford, Massachusetts
canvas, rope
18 3/4 x 6 1/8 in.; 47.625 x 15.5575 cm
U.S. Fish Commission, through J. T. Brown