|SCREEN CAPTURE FROM LINKED ARTICLE: Photo by Olga Fliatova, Far East Russia Orca Project|
We've all heard of MOBY DICK the over sized and aggressive white whale of Herman Melville's novel MOBY DICK. A little research reveals to the interested reader that the novel was actually based on a real incident involving the American whale ship ESSEX . The ESSEX was home ported in Nantucket , Massachusetts and was launched in 1799. In 1820 the ship was attacked by a sperm whale in the Pacific and sunk. The survivors were at sea 95 days before being rescued and were forced into cannibalism.The true life account of the crew's story as told by First Mate Owen Chase and cabin boy Thomas Nickerson inspired the novel MOBY DICK by Herman Melville: (See ESSEX For Additional Information). There wasn't a lot of scientific information about Sperm Whales around in in 1820, so while we can be pretty sure that white whales existed in very small proportion to any whale population we really don't know how rare the phenomena was. We have much better data on Orcas or "Killer Whales", much smaller distant cousins of the Moby dick's species. We learned recently in an article by Colin Barras writing in NEW SCIENTIST that white Orcas are now appearing in increased numbers and some scientists think that this may be sign og stress on the species.
TO READ COLIN BARRAS FULL ARTICLE CLICK ON NEW SCIENTIST