Ned Land was a Canadian sailor and whaler who was hired by Commander Farragut to kill the sea monster which had been terrorizing the oceans. He joined Professor Arronax and his assistant Conseil aboard the Abraham Lincoln in a hunt for the monster. When the beast was sighted, Ned threw his harpoon at it, only to have it clunk off of what he assumed to be the creature's armored hide. When the monster struck the Abraham Lincoln, Ned was knocked overboard along with Arronax and Conseil. The three men drifted in the ocean until they floated up to the "monster," which turned out was actually a submarine named the Nautilus.
Ned, Arronax and Conseil were taken prisoner by the submarine's crew, and made the prisoners of its captain, the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Nemo, an admirer of Arronax's, allowed him and his companions to remain aboard the Nautilus as his guests instead of his prisoners - provided they obeyed his commands and didn't try to escape. Unlike the honor-bound Arronax, Ned, who took an instant dislike to Nemo, vowed he would never stop trying to escape.