On Whales Eating Men Alive

by brian lam

Ben Shattuck writes about the history and lore of men being chewed on and swallowed by Whales. He finds a lot of fiction, but he also finds some fact.

The famous Quaker captain Edmund Gardner’s entanglement with a whale paints the clearest picture of what might happen — he was photographed post-attack, his left hand, fingerless and gnarled, centered in the shot. Gardner and his crew were off the coast of Peru in 1839. They lowered for a sperm whale. Gardner, as captain, was the boat header. After the whale was harpooned, he switched places with the boat steerer to kill the whale with a lance. The whale turned on the boat, and bit the bow. An article in Our Flag – a mid-19th-century publication out of New Bedford — lightly describes the whale biting the bow as it might “the best part of an apple-tart in the munch of a hungry school-boy.” His crew retrieved him, put him in the bottom of the boat, and thought he was dead. But he croaked out that he wanted to go to a doctor in Peru, where he convalesced.

Facebook Comments