There Are Whales Today That Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written


In Alaska’s North Slope lives a population of bowhead whales with a remarkable life span. Some whales in the water are over 200 years old, and were alive even before Moby Dick, the famous novel about the white whale, was written. This population is the made up of the few survivors that made it through the commercial whaling spree from 1848 to 1915, which killed all the whales except 1,000 or so animals. These whales, some with barbed steel points still imbedded in their 17-19 inch blubber, rebuilt the population.

The bowhead whale gets its name from its definitive bow-shaped skull that measures over 16.5 feet long and is about 30-40% of their total body length. The bow shape helps the animal break through thick ice in the winter time when it needs air.


(via The Smithsonian)


One thought on “There Are Whales Today That Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written

  1. It was amazing to see all the walruses and whales in the ice pack. There were hundreds of walruses sunning themselves on the ice, and we got close enough to smell them and hear them bellowing. The long hours of sailing, days and days of just open sea, suddenly seemed worth it. We had stumbled upon this herd, not expecting to see them, nor paying a guide to take us to them. It felt like true discovery, even though it was on a small scale. I’ll never forget that first flush of excitement when we saw the ice and the walruses. We’re in the Arctic! As we were slowing down to get pictures of the walruses we suddenly hear a WOOSH as a bowhead whale surfaced next to the boat, its barnacled head only meters from our fragile hull. The whale surfaced a few times and then gave us a wave of his giant tail before again sinking to the depths.

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