Essex


Did you know that the incident that happened in Essex prompted Herman Melville to create the classic novel Moby Dick?  But something else has happened on the boat that was sunk by a giant sperm whale.  When the survivors of the Essex were found, only 2 of them remained, the rest of the crew members disappeared.  The 2 members were found sucking the bone marrow of a human bone believed to be from one of their crew mates.


The Essex ship was a whale ship from Massachusetts.  The captain of the ship is named George Pollard Jr.  It is quite popular for being sunk by a giant sperm whale in the Pacific Ocean in the year 1820.  The survivors went aboard smaller boats where they drifted on the sea for 90 days before they were rescued.  Owen Chase was with 4 other crew mates on one boat while Obed Hendrick is in another boat and Captain Pollard on another.  During their voyage the boat of Owen Chase got separated on the two.

On Chase boat, there were foods and water that they can consume, but the foods have been soaked in seawater and were contaminated causing it to spoil.  It took about two weeks before they can consume all the foods, by this time they also started drinking their own urine.   On February 8, a crew member named Isaac Cole died; he was not given a proper burial because his dead body serves as nourishment to the other survivors.  They cannibalize the body of their dead crew mate in order to survive. 

On Hendricks’ boat one by one their crew mate died, but with no food present on the boat, Hendricks decided to keep the bodies of the dead in order to consume.  On January 28 after Samuel Reed died, the boat of Hendricks got separated to the Captain’s boat, they were never found again.

On the Captain’s boat, the supply of food became critical; they all went into an agreement that one has to sacrifice his life in order for the other to survive.  They drew lots and who ever drew the black lots will be executed.  Unfortunately it was the 17 year old cousin of the captain who drew the black lots.  His good friend, Ramsdell was the one authorized to commit the execution.  Pollard and Ramsdell was able to survive by feasting on the body of their crew mate.

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