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Was Moby Dick Based on a Real Story?

The inspiration for Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby Dick was based on a real albino sperm whale called Mocha Dick. During the growth of the whaling industry in the Americas in the mid 1800s, Mocha Dick gained a reputation of being a one of the most feared whales in the ocean. Mocha Dick was reported to be docile if left alone, even swimming along ships. However, when provoked, the 70 foot (21.336 m) whale would become aggressive and attack ships with his body. During the 28 years that Mocha Dick hunted, he reportedly attacked 100 ships, 20 of which were completely destroyed. Mocha was eventually killed by whalers in 1838 near the Chilean island Mocha after he came to the rescue of a female whale whose calf was killed by the whalers.

More about whales:

  • As of 2014, an albino humpback whale named Migaloo is being studied by scientist. Migaloo, which means "White Fella" in Aboriginal Australian language, was first spotted in 1991 off the Queensland coast in Australia.

  • Sperm whales are the most aggressive whale species and have been known to attack whaling ships and battle giant squids.

  • An extinct species of sperm whale which lived approximately 12 million years ago, the Leviathan melvillei, was named after Herman Melville.

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