She is notable for having been rammed and sunk by a wounded sperm whale in the South Pacific on August 20, , some 30 years after the famous incident in which the Essex was stove in and sunk by a whale in the same area. The Ann Alexander was a ship-rigged wooden-hulled trading vessel. It is claimed that the Ann Alexander , with Capt. Loammi Loum Snow of Rochester, Massachusetts in command, encountered the British fleet a few days after its victory at the battle of Trafalgar in October According to the same account, in February , with Snow still in command, the Ann Alexander was captured off Rock of Lisbon on a voyage from St. Ives, England to Leghorn by a Spanish privateer , who replaced all but Snow and a mate with a prize crew , and set a course for Spain.
The real Moby Dick: Do whales really attack humans?
This Real-Life Whaling Disaster Inspired ‘Moby-Dick’
Learn which whales were hunted and why; how they captured and processed them; how technology changed the industry. Whaling was an exceptionally dangerous business both physically and economically. In the Yankee whale fishery injuries and death were common to almost every voyage. Many vessels were lost. Few individuals got rich whaling and most of those were owners and agents. The answers to why so many people went whaling are many and varied but the underlying principle is that whale products had a strong commercial value if one knew how to exploit it.
All rights reserved. But times were changing: Whale populations in the North Atlantic had declined, forcing whaling ships to head to more distant waters, first plundering the rich pickings off the South American coast, then striking out into the Pacific. The economic stakes were high: Each expedition could yield hundreds of barrels of precious whale oil. There was also valuable ambergris, a substance from the sperm whale used in making perfumes and medicines.
Sperm whaling is the hunting of these marine mammals for the oil, meat and bone that can be extracted from their bodies. Sperm whales , a large and deep-diving species, produce a waxy substance that was especially useful during the Industrial Revolution , and so they were targeted in 19th-century whaling , as exemplified in Moby Dick. Sperm oil is no longer needed, but another unusual product, ambergris , is still valued as a perfume fixative. Although the animal is classified as a vulnerable species , aboriginal whaling in limited numbers is still permitted, notably from two villages in Indonesia, for subsistence.