Tuesday, June 12, 2007

19th-Century Weapon Found in Whale

A 19th-century bomb lance fragment was found in a whale caught off the coast of Alaska. I didn't even realize whales could live that long. If I caught a whale that old, I think I might consider throwing it back.

UPDATE: Sorry, I just had to interject in this one-sided conversation because I can't get my mind off the idea that someone shot a "bomb lance" into this whale, who we will now call Hector for compassion purposes. A bomb lance is a device that is shot into the whale with a time-delay fuse meant to explode after penetration. This seems better suited to zombie attacks or slime molds attacking Cleveland than for stout-hearted Hector (remember, that's his name now). What's even more impressive is that Hector apparently shook off this exploding harpoon and went on living for a hundred or so more years! Hector is a bowhead whale, a species found only in Arctic waters. Sorry, I didn't know any other way of ending that paragraph.

I also find it funny that whenever an AP article is talking about something old, like a tortoise or Hector, they always have to give the RBH Index: how old something is relative to the administration of President Rutherford B. Hayes, who has assumed the role of standard 19th-century age marker. Since Hector was a contemporary of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, I would say he was about 2.1 GigaHolmes old.

That makes no scientific sense whatsoever. Poor Hector. We hardly knew thee...mainly because we were all born at the whale tail-end of your ridiculously long life. Sometimes 130 years just isn't enough time.