Friday, March 7, 2008

"A Hump Like a Snow-Hill!"

Melville would be proud. Researchers in Alaska have spotted the elusive “white whale” just two miles off the coast of Kanaga Volcano far out the Aleutian chain in the Bearing Sea. This one is not the sperm whale that Ahab sought, but instead, a nearly white Orca (true albinos rarely live long in the wild).

The NOAA researchers were conducting acoustic soundings off the coast when one of the crewmembers spotted the snowy creature that had evaded researches since it was first seen years before.

"I had heard about this whale, but we had never been able to find it," said Holly Fearnbach, one of the researchers. Reportedly, the NOAA boat tagged along with the pod of 12 whales for around 30 minutes as everyone aboard snapped photos.

And as a side note, for a list of memorable Melville quotes, click here. The site contains one of my favorites from the opening chapter of Moby Dick that anyone stuck with a case of cabin fever this winter and an urge to go boating can commiserate with; it is a little dark and melodramatic, but humorous as well:

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

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