Whaling Ship from 1823 Found in Hawaii Waters

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The 1823 Nantucket whaling ship commanded by the unlucky captain whose first ship was sunk by a whale and inspired Herman Melville's classic tale "Moby Dick," was discovered 600 miles northwest of Honolulu.

The Two Brothers whaler was the second ship that George Pollard lost under his command. The first, the Essex, was rammed by a sperm whale, and served as the basis for the Melville's novel. Two years after the Essex went down, Pollard went back to sea and during a storm his ship struck a coral reef and sank.

Officials from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, who discovered the wreck, were scheduled to announce their findings at a news conference today, exactly 188 years after the Two Brothers sank, according to the Associated Press.

Kelly Gleason, the maritime archaeologist who led the discovery, first saw the ship's anchor in 2008. While it could have belonged to any one of three 19th century whaling ships that sank at the atoll, additional artifacts found by Gleason's team were clearly from the 1820s.


AP photo

Several harpoons, a hook used to strip whales of their blubber, and try pots or large cauldrons whalers used to turn whale blubber into oil have been found.

"We had the opportunity to find something that's probably as close to being a time capsule as we could get," Gleason said.

The artifacts will go on display at the marine monument's Discovery Center in Hilo and Gleason hopes the exhibit will travel to Nantucket, news sources report.

Pollard and his crew were rescued immediately from the Two Brothers, quite a different experience from the Essex tragedy, when he and fellow crewmembers drifted at sea for three months without food or water. They eventually resorted to cannibalism, eating one of the captain's cousins to survive.

After the Two Brothers incident, Pollard never whaled again. He returned to Nantucket and became a night watchman.

Nathaniel Philbrick, an author and historian who spent more than three years researching the Essex for his book, "In the Heart of the Sea," said, "To find the physical remains of something that seems to have been lost to time is pretty amazing. It just makes you realize these stories are more than stories. They're about real lives."


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