Whales eating people?

From: Phillip J. Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Mon Jan 15 2001 - 09:33:28 EST

Hi Becky:
You ask whether whales eat people. The answer's no! Actually, the only
large whale capable of even swallowing a human being is a sperm whale. The
other large whales (humpbacks, blues etc) have gullets that are very small
(a few inches across) despite the fact that they're mouths are huge. As
far as I know, there is no reliable record of a whale killing and eating a
person, though some rare apparent attacks of whales on boats are known.
The most famous of these was the whaler Essex which was rammed and sunk by
a large sperm whale in the North Pacific in the 19th century. This story
has recently been written up in an excellent book called "In the Heart of
the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick. The crew were forced to take to open
boats and most starved to death, and the others had to resort to
cannibalism to survive. Anyway, it's a great read!

Phil Clapham

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Feb 25 2002 - 21:05:59 EST