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War Wounded Whale

War Wounded Whale

By Sarah Gillham

The Giant Tortoise is generally thought of as one of the longest living animals currently roaming the earth. But this belief is currently being challenged by the discovery of a weapon fragment - dating back to the 1800s - in a bowhead whale.

The whale, which was skulking around the coast of Alaska, was found to be harbouring an antique bomb lance used by commercial whalers in around 1880. This odd discovery suggests that the whale could be approaching 130 years old. Wildlife Biologist Craig George said, “It was probably at least a yearling when it was struck, because the whalemen never took calves”.

This information serves to further strengthen existing evidence claiming that these bowhead whales have life spans far out weighing ours. Other whales hunted this century, obviously having felt particularly peckish and in need of some variation in their diets, have apparently eaten stone tools from the 1880s.

The item was discovered after the whale was hunted by Alaska's Inupiat people on a subsistence hunts; one of the few hunts permitted by the International Whaling Commission - they allow meat from hunted whales to be distributed among villagers for non-commercial purposes.

As far as the Inupiat people are concerned, this is all old news, as they have long believed in the whales' extended life spans.

More marine life:
- Spoof - Whale bomb alerts
- Straight - R.I.P. Yangtse river dolphin

More about bombs:
- News - Wanted: new nuclear bomb

Image: Fokko Veenstra

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23 Apr 2009
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