The wind came up during our 10:00 Whale Watch on Monday, so even though we did see splashes from two different Humpbacks several miles from shore, we had to turn the boat around and bring everyone in after only 20 minutes of cruising…so I don’t have much to report. Instead, enjoy this story from Captain Claire’s Humpback Fact Archives.
In the 1890′s, a whaler with very pale and mottled skin named James Bartley claimed that he had been swallowed by a Sperm Whale. He had been pursuing the whale off the coast of the Falkland Islands when he was thrown from his boat and presumed lost at sea. According to Bartley, two days later, shipmates on The Star of the East killed a Sperm whale, and lo and behold — found him in the whale’s stomach!
Supposedly, Bartley was a “raving lunatic” for several weeks, but then recovered enough to remember the experience — enough that he was able to make a modest living travelling with an exhibit of a stuffed Sperm Whale. Bartley claimed his skin was permanently damaged from the whale’s gastric juices.
The story of this” modern day Jonah” was very popular in religious tracts and broadcasts, but has since been debunked. Not only was the Star of the East not a whaling boat, but there was no record of a James Bartley even working on the ship. Even James’ wife claimed the story was “a good yarn”.