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Owlscrying

19th-Century weapon found in whale

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June 12

BOSTON - A 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt , more than a century ago. Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3 1/2-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale's age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old.

Calculating a whale's age can be difficult, and is usually gauged by amino acids in the eye lenses. It's rare to find one that has lived more than a century, but experts say the oldest were close to 200 years old.

The bomb lance fragment, lodged a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade.

It was probably shot at the whale from a heavy shoulder gun around 1890. 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 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 for harvesting.

There were notches carved into the head of the arrow used in the 19th century hunt, a traditional way for the Alaskan hunters to indicate ownership of the whale.

Whaling has always been a prominent source of food for Alaskans, and is monitored by the International Whaling Commission. A hunting quota for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission was recently renewed, allowing 255 whales to be harvested by 10 Alaskan villages over five years.

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Nice find! :)

Just think how long it would have lived if it hadn't been shot... Gotta feel sorry for it but I guess it'll probably live longer than me so it can't really complain. :P

I just wonder how old the OLD predatory whales and pliosaurs could have potentially lived in a successful life in a stable climate, with them being on the top of the food chain then. Well, I don't think anything could've eaten them apart from their own species but maybe I'm wrong... ;) We'll find out someday.

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I had no clue whales could live that long. I knew turtles, tortises, and snakes could live a rather long life, but never whales. Well I guess you learn something new every day.

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man,very interesting..............

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thats an old whale, im surprised that it lived for so long and survived with that bullet thing in its blubber.

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