Aquatic Star of Moby Dick Could Still Be Alive Today
by Abraham Ruiz, age 12
In 1851, Herman Melville recorded a thrilling tale about a bowhead whale in his well-known novel, Moby Dick. What some might not have known, however, is that this species of whale can live more than 200 years.
Bowhead whales received their names because of their unique bow-shaped skulls, which are over 16 feet long. As the largest mammals in the world, these whales also have a layer of blubber that is typically between 17 and 19 inches thick. This blubber is useful because they inhabit icy waters surrounding Alaska.
From 1848 to 1915, Yankee commercial whaling threatened these creatures. Estimates indicate that approximately only 1,000 bowheads avoid extermination during this time. Today, this species appears to be recovering. There are now more than 14,000 bowhead whales.
Because of their incredible life-span, some of these 14,000 could have been alive before Moby Dick was even written!