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Weapon Found in Whale Dated From the 1800s 661

LABarr writes "AP and CNN are carrying a story that has forced scientists to re-evaluate the longevity of mammals. A bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt over a century ago. 'Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3½-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale's age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old. The bomb lance fragment, lodged in a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade, was likely manufactured in New Bedford, on the southeast coast of Massachusetts, a major whaling center at that time. It was probably shot at the whale from a heavy shoulder gun around 1890.' "
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Weapon Found in Whale Dated From the 1800s

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  • caught? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) *
    do people catch whales a lot? and then they did neck surgery on it before they let it go? or maybe - instead of 'catching' a whale, it should read - killed a whale? I'm just wondering.
    • sorry to answer my own question but i decided to go against the grain and rtfa. i guess they probably didn't let it go after they cut it up in pieces with a chain saws.
      although - if the information i garnered from Finding Nemo is correct, I guess it will eventually be finding its way back to the sea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chris Burke ( 6130 )

      "The 49-foot male whale died when it was shot with a similar projectile last month, and the older device was found buried beneath its blubber as hunters carved it with a chain saw for harvesting."

      In other words, the whale fell victim to a modern version of the same weapon it survived in the 1800s.
  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by GWLlosa ( 800011 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:08PM (#19522021)
    Captain Ahab ALWAYS gets his whale... Eventually.
  • Not the first time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:13PM (#19522097)
    This isn't the first time this has happened. I believe in one of Bill Bryson's books - probably 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' - he mentions a whale being found with a hand-thrown inuit spearhead embedded in its blubber. Or something along those lines... Anyway, it put the age of the animal well over 100 years.
  • Yay, Humans (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlueMikey ( 1112869 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:15PM (#19522113)

    Nothing proves that man is who rules the Earth like taking animals that are 130 years old, killing them, and then hacking them up with a chainsaw. Keep showin' them animals who's boss, oh brave hunters.


  • by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <> on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:16PM (#19522145) Homepage
    Whales live indefinitely, and their master race 'swims' the universe in large cylinders. Everyone has known this since the historical documents were released in 1986.
  • oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 ( 671442 ) <lk_digitus&hotmail,com> on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:16PM (#19522149) Homepage
    When reached for additional comment the scientists replied "Hey, I call 'em like I see 'em. I'm a whale biologist."
  • by iknownuttin ( 1099999 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:18PM (#19522173)
    "He couldn't have been that bothered if he lived for another 100 years."

    Every time it would rain, the poor whale can be heard for miles singing the complaining song of old whales. Roughly translated from whale song as he was talking to younger whales, "Aye! My neck is killing me! Years ago, some son of a bitch human shot me right in me neck! Yarrr. It 'urts every time a storm is ah brew'n. Yarrr. Take note young'ns"

  • from TFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Silentknyght ( 1042778 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:21PM (#19522231)
    From TFA

    The small metal cylinder was filled with explosives fitted with a time-delay fuse so it would explode seconds after it was shot into the whale. The bomb lance was meant to kill the whale immediately and prevent it from escaping.

    The device exploded and probably injured the whale, Bockstoce said.

    "It probably hurt the whale, or annoyed him, but it hit him in a non-lethal place," he said. "He couldn't have been that bothered if he lived for another 100 years."

    The whale harkens back to far different era. If 130 years old, it would have been born in 1877, the year Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in as president, when federal Reconstruction troops withdrew from the South and when Thomas Edison unveiled his newest invention, the phonograph.

    The 49-foot male whale died when it was shot with a similar projectile last month, and the older device was found buried beneath its blubber as hunters carved it with a chain saw for harvesting.

    You think there'd be a more humane way of killing any animal than to insert (i.e. shoot) a bomb inside its body.
  • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:30PM (#19522365) Homepage
    If whales are livening longer than we thought and yet their numbers are still lower than they should be Who knows what the reproductive life of a whale is and it could mean many of the living adults dont breed anymore
  • by sevenfactorial ( 996184 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:31PM (#19522389)
    Is firing chronometers into whales instead of exploding spear points. Preferably ones that can be read without a chainsaw.
  • by possible ( 123857 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:38PM (#19522511)
    From the summary: A bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast...

    The whale wasn't "caught", it was killed. It's really disappointing to think that people still killing rare, intelligent mammals that can live to over 150 years old.

    And before people start telling me that whale hunting is part of Inuit tradition, I'd like to point out that TFA mentions that this whale was killed with an mechanically-launched explosive projectile. That's about as traditional as a Lakota shooting a buffalo with an AK-47.

  • Yeah but (Score:5, Funny)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:38PM (#19522517)
    How did it taste?

  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:57PM (#19522781)
    People have been assholes for a long time!
  • by unger ( 42254 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:16PM (#19523099)
    Aging Whales: Evidence of Age

    Marine researchers now believe that the Arctic Bowhead whale may live 180 years or longer making it the longest lived mammal on earth. Back in the early 1990's, biologists weren't sure whether to trust these estimates, that is, until they stumbled on an important clue. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. Jeffery Bada is a Professor of Marine Chemistry at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at La Jolla, California.

    "During the annual harvest by the local Inuit hunters, the biologists that were observing this found that there were stone harpoons imbedded in some of these whales. And these stone harpoons were no longer used by the local hunters after about 1870. Stone harpoons in a whale that was killed in the 90's implies that it is over a hundred years old, and this provided independent confirmation that we indeed were onto something really interesting."

    What proved equally as interesting to Jeffrey Bada and the other researchers, was the fact that the oldest whales taken during the harvest were all males.

    "I don't think it necessarily implies that the males of the species live longer than the females. It has more to do with their behavior. These hundred year plus old whales were survivors of the great slaughter of whales that took place in the late nineteenth century. And males in this species of Bowheads, tend to be solitary animals, where as the females group together in these big pods of whales, and as a result, they were probably more easily hunted. It may be that the solitary males survived, whereas the females were more heavily exploited."

    We'll hear more about the long-lived Bowhead whales in a future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science for 200 years, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

    [ above from: [] ]
  • by x-guru ( 653854 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:27PM (#19523243)
    I think what we can all take away from this experience is that the environmental sciences are too boring for *most* Slashdot readers to get through the entire article.

    Ok, maybe that's a little harsh, but I mean really, most of the comments make it clear that no one read the article. I feel like I'm in high school English class where the teacher would give a pop essay on the short story we were supposed to read the night before.

    What's worse is that the poster did not even read the CNN article. Or perhaps didn't pay attention. The post says "AP and CNN are carrying a story that has forced scientists to re-evaluate the longevity of mammals". This is completely false. The linked-to CNN article says "It's rare to find [a whale] that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old."

    Finally, the AP carried this story on Tuesday and CNN picked it up on Wednesday. Old news.

    I'm kvetching (sp).
  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by duckpoopy ( 585203 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:56PM (#19523671) Journal
    I got hit by a 1957 Chevy, therefore I must be at least 50 years old.

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