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paladin
04-22-2010, 01:36 PM
Whale survives harpoon attack 130 years ago to become 'world's oldest mammal'

by DAVID GARDNER

Last updated at 23:37 13 June 2007

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A giant bowhead whale caught off the coast of Alaska had a harpoon point embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt ? more than a century ago.

Biologists claim the find helps prove the bowhead is the oldest living mammal on earth.

They say the 13-centimetre arrow-shaped fragment dates back to around 1880, meaning the 50-ton whale had been coasting around the freezing arctic waters since Victorian times.

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130-year-old weapon: The shiny scars on the weapon are a result of the chain saw cut

Because traditional whale hunters never took calves, experts estimate the bowhead was several years old when it was first shot and about 130 when it died last month.

"No other finding has been so precise," said John Bockstoce, a curator at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts.

Calculating a bowhead whale's age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses.

It is rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts now believe the oldest were close to 200 years old.

The weapon fragment lodged in a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade comes from a 19th century bomb lance.

bowhead whale

Bowhead whale: Thought to live up to 200 years but the recent discovery is the best proof yet

Fired from a heavy shoulder gun, the harpoon was attached to a small metal cylinder filled with explosives and fitted with a time fuse so it would explode seconds after it was shot into the whale.

Experts have pinned down the weapons manufacture to a New England factory in about 1880 and say it was rendered obsolete by a less bulky darting gun a few years later.

Even though the device probably exploded, the bowhead was protected by a one foot thick layer of blubber and thick bones it uses to break through ice one foot thick to breathe at the surface.

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The fragment alongside a similar but unfired bomb lance patented in 1885.

"It probably hurt the whale, or annoyed him, but it hit him in a non-lethal place," said Mr Bockstoce.

"He couldn't have been that bothered if he lived for another 100 years."

The find adds growing weight to evidence that bowheads outlive all other mammals.

Six similar harpoon points have been found in the whales since 2001, all suggesting they live much longer than previously thought.

The oldest known ages for mammals are 110 years for a blue whale and 114 years for a fin whale.

The oldest documented human was a 122-year-old French woman, who died ten years ago.

moby dick

Famous novel: Captain Ahab, leading his crew on a hunt for the great whale Moby Dick

The only other mammal that comes close is elephants, which can live to 70 in captivity.

Scientists believe that the bowheads' longevity is the result of the tough environment where they live in the freezing arctic, where there are not abundant plankton and krill crustaceans to eat.

Consequently, the whales have a slower metabolism to stay warm as efficiently as possible.

Bowheads are an endangered species and there are currently about 8,000 to 12,000 left.

They travel in small pods and calves weigh as much as six tons at birth. Their only foes are man and orca whales.

Alaskan whalers found the harpoon fragment as they carved the 50-foot long whale up with a chainsaw after using a powerful 21st century gun to kill it.

While commercial whaling is now banned by international agreement, natives from Alaska, the Chukotka region of eastern Russia and Greenland are permitted to hunt a fixed number of whales for traditional, non-commercial consumption. In Alaska, meat from hunted whales is distributed to all residents of the hunters' villages.

Biologists can estimate the age of bowhead whales by studying the changes in levels of aspartic acid, an amino acid found in the eye lens and teeth.

Using bowhead eyeballs, each the size of a snooker ball, they say they can tell the whale's age by the amount of acid, which increases in quantity with the year

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-461703/Whale-survives-harpoon-attack-130-years-ago-worlds-oldest-mammal.html#ixzz0lr6bk6mT

Captain Blight
04-22-2010, 01:43 PM
I'm pretty spotty on religion, but I'm pretty sure it's a sin to kill something that old. Mind you, better it be taken as part of an ethical harvest than just die and sink, or be taken by the Norwegians to sell to the Japanese. Y a know?

seayou7
04-22-2010, 02:29 PM
There is a good book out recently "The Whale" by Phillip Hoar. He followed the moby dick tale from the whales perspective.

bobbys
04-22-2010, 02:36 PM
Yikes!!.

I have a harpoon, Primer caps, Whale knives, but not sure how old.

TimH
04-22-2010, 02:48 PM
damn shame.

Michael D. Storey
04-22-2010, 03:02 PM
I'm pretty spotty on religion, but I'm pretty sure it's a sin to kill something that old. Mind you, better it be taken as part of an ethical harvest than just die and sink, or be taken by the Norwegians to sell to the Japanese. Y a know?

In the scheme of things, I reckon that the animal is intended to die and sink and feed life on the bottom. Harvest (read killing) for ethical reasons would do with some explanation.

Mrleft8
04-22-2010, 03:08 PM
Close friend, or relative Chuck?.... <Scurrying away fast and changing my name> :D ;)

seanz
04-22-2010, 03:16 PM
<Scurrying away fast and changing my name>


None of that'll help you.........

boylesboats
04-22-2010, 03:24 PM
That's interestin' story... Thank Chuck

TimH
04-22-2010, 03:40 PM
I reckon that the animal is intended to die and sink and feed life on the bottom.

I could say the same about a LOT of people.

Oyvind Snibsoer
04-22-2010, 05:09 PM
I'm pretty spotty on religion, but I'm pretty sure it's a sin to kill something that old. Mind you, better it be taken as part of an ethical harvest than just die and sink, or be taken by the Norwegians to sell to the Japanese. Y a know?

A wee correction... We don't sell whale meat to the Japanese. Oh, it's not that we don't want to, but the Japanese only want sushi grade whale meat, and the small coastal whalers are unable to produce that kind of quality.

Since the domestic market for whale meat really isn't all that big, stocks are full and a lot fewer minke whales than the quotas allow for are actually caught.

paladin
04-22-2010, 08:01 PM
In the Icelandic language: hvalreki is the word for both "beached whale" and "jackpot".

I might mention that only Icelandic nationals may hunt whales in Icelandic waters. Only recently have Minke whales been added to those that may be harvested. I have been to the whaling station. The drive the whales into a fjord then block their exit for harvesting. I sailed into the fjord (no engine) and had a helluva time getting out under sail...a long tacking dual.
Minke whales were thought to be sent by God as protectors.

boylesboats
04-22-2010, 09:49 PM
In the Icelandic language: hvalreki is the word for both "beached whale" and "jackpot".

I might mention that only Icelandic nationals may hunt whales in Icelandic waters. Only recently have Minke whales been added to those that may be harvested. I have been to the whaling station. The drive the whales into a fjord then block their exit for harvesting. I sailed into the fjord (no engine) and had a helluva time getting out under sail...a long tacking dual.
Minke whales were thought to be sent by God as protectors.

depend on which "beached whale":eek: :D

Michael D. Storey
04-22-2010, 09:57 PM
[QUOTE=paladin;2570560]In the Icelandic language: hvalreki is the word for both "beached whale" and "jackpot".

Christ you know a lot of stuff

boylesboats
04-22-2010, 10:05 PM
[QUOTE=paladin;2570560]In the Icelandic language: hvalreki is the word for both "beached whale" and "jackpot".

Christ you know a lot of stuff

Chuck is jist an wise fella...:) I'll give him credit for that..
you can learn a few things from Chuck..

paladin
04-23-2010, 05:06 AM
Mr. Storey...I spent a couple of years in Iceland working for NATO and was sorta "married" to a gal for about half that time.

Michael D. Storey
04-23-2010, 03:32 PM
Mr. Storey...I spent a couple of years in Iceland working for NATO and was sorta "married" to a gal for about half that time.

I was there in the 80's for a while. Met the president at his farm; he was slinging sheep ****. No secret service, etc. Oh course, he coulda been ****tin' me.....

paladin
04-23-2010, 04:46 PM
Probably not...I met the Pres when he was a she...she came downstairs at the museum and brought me some coffee from upstairs...I didn't recognize her...I was drawing some parts up(illustrations) from stuff recently found. Pretty low key folks.

Michael D. Storey
04-23-2010, 05:02 PM
well, I can say from personal experience that whale makes the best beef you ever tasted worse 'un Alpo.

paladin
04-23-2010, 05:49 PM
I wasn't too fond of it either...I understand that the main use for it was the Bouvril beef boullion....IIRC.

Michael D. Storey
04-23-2010, 07:17 PM
there's a small hotel in the Azores that serves it. It's called the We'll Meet Again.
(Or was it the Whale Meat Again?)

paladin
04-23-2010, 09:33 PM
I missed that one.

boylesboats
04-23-2010, 09:40 PM
Chuck..:D. like you have alway said... "tastes like chikkins"...

paladin
04-23-2010, 09:48 PM
Larry...No it don't.....and neither do that stinkin' fermented shark that they serve up.

boylesboats
04-24-2010, 10:06 AM
wow... fermented shark... thats sound 'ripe'...
Bad enuff when my favorite fishin' spot is littered with Shad tossed up on the bank by some mindless fishermen.. had to put up with the smell..

Captain Blight
04-24-2010, 10:44 AM
A wee correction... We don't sell whale meat to the Japanese. Oh, it's not that we don't want to, but the Japanese only want sushi grade whale meat, and the small coastal whalers are unable to produce that kind of quality.

Since the domestic market for whale meat really isn't all that big, stocks are full and a lot fewer minke whales than the quotas allow for are actually caught.I did not know that.

donald branscom
04-24-2010, 11:16 AM
Yikes!!.

I have a harpoon, Primer caps, Whale knives, but not sure how old.

Better turn those primer caps over to the sheriffs dept. They could burn your house down. Or explode if not wet.

paladin
04-24-2010, 03:18 PM
Those primer caps could be worth a buncha bucks.

ishmael
04-24-2010, 05:41 PM
Interesting. I knew some whales lived a long time, but I hadn't realized two hundred years. That means some of them swimming around might have been calved before the War of 1812.