Question about sperm whales and sperm whale behavior?

I have been studying Herman Melville, his book Moby Dick and American whaling of the 1830’s. Melville bases his book Moby Dick on an actual sperm whale head ramming account that took place around the 1830’s. This happened to a whaling ship called the Essex which sank after being rammed twice by an unprovoked (so they claimed) sperm whale. Melville interviewed one of the 6 men that lived to tell the story. The interviewed man claimed that the sperm whale was 80-85 feet long and for no reason charged their vessel ramming it once in the side and then rammed the bow of the ship head on so hard that its head went through the bow of the ship. Once the whale freed itself it left never to be seen again by the crew. The extreme damage sunk the ship and many of the men died in the 3 life boats that were put out to the Ocean. Melville went on to write Moby Dick and the rest is history.

My question has to do with having a very hard time believing this account. For one thing can a sperm whales really get 80-85 feet long? However, the thing I am having the hardest thing with is believing that one of these genital creatures would sink a ship by ramming it for no reason and then just take off not to be seen again? I understand that whales would get viscous after being harpooned by whalers during the day but I would to if I were attacked in that way. However the crew calmed the whale just charged right at them. To me it sounds as if this crew were covering something up.

What I want to know is could this really had happened and if you are failure with the story what do the experts say really happened today? Your thoughts please.
I wanted to control how much detail my question had but I thought setting up the question about the interview first was important. The man that was interviewed was only 15 at the time of the ramming. Also the Essex was not owned by the Captain but by two gentleman of the time. Fires were very common as these whaling vessels where factories as well. That is why I am thinking they may have been covering up a ship board fire???? I am very ashamed that the human species did this to these poor animals and we and they deserved what we/they got. My opinion.

Leave a Reply