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In the 19th century, the harpoon, a spear like instrument with a barbed head, was hand propelled. In less than a century, both the shape of and the means of propelling the harpoon was changed. By 1986, the harpoon was festooned with sharp stakes that prevented it from sliding out of the whale. The harpoon was equipped with an explosive that would do more damage to the whale and quickened the process of dying. A thick rope connected the harpoon to the whaling ship, which fired the harpoon into the whale via a harpoon gun. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)