In the Heart of the Sea Essay

1529 Words Nov 18th, 2010 7 Pages
In the Heart of the Sea In 1819, The whale ship, Essex, set its sails and departed from Nantucket, Massachusetts on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean to hunt and kill sperm whales and retrieve the abundance of oil the whales possess, which became a crucial component in 19th century industry [2]. The island of Nantucket had been one of the most important oil businesses for quite some time. For the crew of the whale ships, harvesting whales was a tough assignment; when a whale was spotted, the crew would approach it, harpoon it, and then try to kill it. Once a whale was killed, its blubber was peeled from the corpse and then boiled for the high quality oil. On this particular journey the crew faced even more difficulties than just the killing …show more content…
After one of their whaleboats had been damaged days before, another boat became severely damaged. As the harpooners limped back to the Essex, a massive sperm whale appeared off the bow, acting in a very suspicious manner. The whale then swam vigorously towards the vessel, ramming the side of the Essex, which led to the capsizing of the whale ship. The blunt, square shaped head of a sperm whale is what allowed it to ram the vessel without causing damage to the animal, not to mention they weigh upwards of thirty-five to forty-five tons [1]. This instance became the first documented whale attack on any type of ship. Perhaps the brutality of the slaughters enraged the large whale to attack. Whales are excellent communicators and the dying whales could have sent a distress signal that prompted the attack. Clearly the decision by Captain Chase to get closer to the whale that damaged the smaller ship led to even more unfortunate events. Philbrick discusses different ideas about why the attack took place. Some speculate that the attack could have just been accidental. Others contribute the attack due to the natural aggressiveness of male sperm whales. The cause will never be known, but the effects of the attack soon took a devastating toll to the entire crew of the Essex, and many decisions were made shortly thereafter the whale's attack had ultimate

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