There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written

Some of the bowhead whales in the icy waters off of Alaska today are over 200 years old

by Rose Eveleth

In Alaska’s North Slope, the population of bowhead whales seems to be recovering. But that’s really not the coolest part of this Alaska Dispatch story. Instead, it’s this, noticed by Geoffry Gagnon.:

There are bowhead whales still alive in arctic that were born long before Moby Dick was written in 1851. That’s nuts

That’s right, some of the bowhead whales in the icy waters today are over 200 years old. Alaska Dispatch writes:

Bowheads seem to be recovering from the harvest of
Yankee commercial whaling from 1848 to 1915, which wiped out all but
1,000 or so animals. Because the creatures can live longer than 200
years — a fact  George discovered when he found an old stone harpoon
point in a whale — some of the bowheads alive today may have themselves
dodged the barbed steel points of the Yankee whalers…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

illustration by David G. Stanton/Publications Office – Smithsonian


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