In 1820, there was no Greenpeace and commercial whaling was a thriving industry. It was on this day in this year that one 80-ton sperm whale, furious at the murder of its fellow pod members, took matters into his own flippers and rammed (and sank!) Nantucket whaling ship Essex in the south Pacific. This happened near Pitcairn Island, where survivors of an earlier maritime event, the mutiny on The Bounty, still reside to this day. Unfortunately, the Essex survivors weren’t lucky enough to find an island to sustain them, so they eventually had to dine on the remains of their comrades — in one case murdering the captain’s unlucky cousin when lots were drawn (he lost).
In 1851, American customs official-to-be Herman Melville wrote a novel, Moby-Dick, that was inspired by this event and experiences from his own early life spent sailing. Maybe you’ve heard of it? (Incidentally, I think if you slapped a flat-bottomed ZZ Top beard on Seann William Scott (Stifler of American Pie fame), he’d kind of look like Herman Melville. What do you think?)