No ‘Moby-Dick’: A Real Captain, Twice Doomed

February 11, 2011
HONOLULU — In the annals of the sea, there were few sailors whose luck was worse than George Pollard Jr.’s.

Pollard, you see, was the captain of the Essex, the doomed Nantucket whaler whose demise, in 1820, came in a most unbelievable fashion: it was attacked and sunk by an angry sperm whale, an event that inspired Herman Melville to write “Moby-Dick.”

Unlike the tale of Ahab and Ishmael, however, Pollard’s story didn’t end there: After the Essex sank, Pollard and his crew floated through the Pacific for three months, a journey punctuated by death, starvation, madness and, in the end, cannibalism. (Pollard, alas, ate his cousin.)

Despite all that, Pollard survived and was given another ship to steer: the Two Brothers, the very boat that had brought the poor captain back to Nantucket.

And then, that ship sank, too.

On Friday, in a discovery that might bring a measure of peace to Captain Pollard, who survived his second wreck (though his career did not), researchers announced that they have found the remains of the Two Brothers. The whaler went down exactly 188 years ago after hitting a reef at the French Frigate Shoals, a treacherous atoll about 600 miles northwest of here. The trove includes dozens of artifacts: harpoon tips, whaling lances and three intact anchors.

The discovery is believed to be the first of a Nantucket whaler, one of an armada of ships that set sail during the early 19th century when the small Massachusetts island was an international capital of whaling. It was a risky pursuit that led sailors halfway across the world — and sometimes to the bottom of the sea.

“Very little material has been recovered from whale ships that foundered because they generally went down far from shore and in the deepest oceans,” said Ben Simons, chief curator of the Nantucket Historical Association. “We have a lot of logbooks and journals that record disasters at sea, but to be taken to the actual scene of the sunken vessel — that’s really what is so amazing about this.”

The discovery was, in some ways, as fortunate as Pollard was cursed.

The Two Brothers — which was bound for the newly opened Japan Grounds after whalers had fished out the Atlantic and parts of the South Pacific — was long known to have sunk on the night of Feb. 11, 1823, off the French Frigate Shoals.

A shrimp-shaped collection of reefs, the shoals were a notoriously tricky spot. Charts were not particularly reliable in that area, and Pollard was steering the Two Brothers without the aid of stars, since the sky had been overcast.

Several dozen boats are known to have sunk there or in neighboring atolls, all of which are now part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, an enormous conservation area that covers nearly 140,000 square miles of ocean west of Hawaii.

In 2008, a team of marine archeologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries set their sights on investigating several other wrecks, including a British whaling ship called the Gledstanes, which sank in the remote Kure Atoll in 1837, and the Churchill, which went down carrying a load of coconut meat in the French Frigate Shoals in 1917.

With a few spare days left before returning to Honolulu, however, the team decided to poke around a tiny sandbar known as Shark Island.

Kelly Gleason, the leader of the team, was in the water — crystal-clear shallows about 15 feet deep — when a colleague suddenly signaled that he had seen something.

“All of a sudden,” said Dr. Gleason, a marine archaeologist, “we came across this large anchor.”

The anchor, some 10 feet long, was peacefully resting on the seafloor, and was far too heavy to lift. (The federally protected monument also has strict rules about removal of artifacts.) Anchors, like so many other types of maritime technology, evolved over the years, making them easier to place in a specific time period, and Dr. Gleason was pretty sure the anchor she was seeing was from the early 1800s.

Divers soon found more debris, including several iron trypots, cauldrons in which blubber was boiled down into oil, the ultimate goal of the lucrative but highly speculative whaling trade. It was a brutal pursuit for both the whales, which were hunted nearly to extinction, and the sailors, who faced years at sea, meager rations and the omnipresent possibility of death.

“Nantucket whaling captains were renowned for being what was called ‘fishy men,’ meaning that they didn’t care what was involved,” said Nathaniel Philbrick, a maritime historian and author of “In the Heart of the Sea,” the acclaimed account of the Essex’s sinking. “They were hard-wired to bring in whales, because whales meant money.”

Pollard, however, was different, “a little more contemplative,” said Mr. Philbrick, despite earning his first helm — the Essex — at the young age of 28.

“He definitely garnered his men’s respect,” Mr. Philbrick said. “But he was twice unlucky.”

And understandably gun-shy. According to an account by Thomas Nickerson, who had been on the Essex — and nearly starved to death at sea after it sank, but still re-upped for another voyage with Pollard — the captain froze on the deck of the Two Brothers after the ship began to sink, and he had to be practically dragged into a smaller whale-chasing boat.

“His reasoning powers had flown,” Nickerson later wrote.

Dr. Gleason says she was impressed that Pollard even went back on a boat at all, considering, you know, the cannibalism of his first trip.

“You just imagine this man who had the courage to go back out to sea, and to have this happen?” she said. “It’s incredible.”

All told, archaeologists have found about 80 relics from the Two Brothers, including four cast-iron cooking pots, fragments of glass and ceramics, riggings and blubber hooks. Monument officials say they hope to eventually make some of the smaller artifacts part of a permanent exhibit in Hawaii, though larger items will remain in the water of the Shoals.

For his part, Captain Pollard was rescued a day after the Two Brothers sank. He returned to Nantucket, where he settled into a sedate, quiet and decidedly nonseafaring life, though other sailors quietly deemed him a “Jonah,” or star-crossed mariner.

He eventually took a job as the town’s night watchman. In the 1850s, he was visited by a 30-something writer who had just published a novel — “Moby-Dick” — to middling reviews. A former whaler himself, Melville had sought out Pollard and found, according to Mr. Philbrick, a kind of soul mate in the older man.

“Both of them had experienced the ultimate in terms of living,” he said, “and then went on quietly in their lives ignored by everyone.”

Indeed, Melville worked as a customs inspector until several years before his death in 1891. Pollard died — alone but apparently beloved by fellow Nantucketers — in 1870. But while Melville’s reputation soared, few know of Captain Pollard.

Dr. Gleason, for one, hopes that this discovery in the reefs of the Hawaiian islands, a place that could boggle any sailor, today or in 1823, goes a way toward repairing Pollard’s legacy.

“He was up against these incredible odds,” she said. “And it’s an incredibly hazardous place.”


70 responses to “No ‘Moby-Dick’: A Real Captain, Twice Doomed

  1. In my opinion, Pollard should be remembered, but not as a “hero”. He did survive two shipwrecks and have to go to cannibalism to survive, which is why he should be remembered. However, he shouldn’t be named a hero. In stories, heros save the day by saving other people. Pollard was just doing what he had to to survive. He was just using natural human instincts. Most people wouldn’t just sit there and die, they would fight for their life. Which is exactly what Pollard did. Why should he be considered such a “hero” for trying to stay alive? His name should be remembered as the man who fought for his life, but not the heroic man who saved the day. Another point is, he ate his cousin to survive. How is this in any way heroic? A heroic person would do whatever he could to save his dear cousin. Maybe if he did that instead, he would be a hero.

  2. This article brought up a really good point about who should get credit : Pollard for living through it or Melville for writing the story. Moby Dick is a famous story and until now no one knew the story behind it . Now that we know story of Captain Pollard who should get the credit? I believe the credit should be shared. Captain Pollard should be recognized for his story of bravery and Herman Melville should be recognized for his book Moby Dick which was based on Captain Pollard’s story. It is a nice compromise because then they both get recognized for each of their stories and both of their stories are told.

  3. I think that this article was very interesting, since it explained a little bit about the brief history of the whalers during the 19th century, and also detailed the life of one of the most well-known whalers out of that time period, captain George Pollard Jr. I thought that it was very interesting to find out that the chief inspiration came from the story of captain Pollard, who’s first ship had been sunken by an angry whale. I also thought that it was amazing that he and some of his shipmates survived 3 months at sea. I also thought that it was interesting that the second (and last) ship that he sailed and eventually sunk was discovered recently, and that the discovery of that vessel triggered the discovery of other sunken ships from that time period. However, I don’t think that captain Pollard should be remembered as a hero, since he did manage to sink two ships and had to turn to eating his cousin at sea to stay alive, which is certainly not the most heroic act. I don’t think that Pollard should be remembered more than any other whaler, since he most likely didn’t really do anything more courageous or heroic than any other whaler had at the time.

  4. I think this article is mainly about Captain Pollard and how he was only remembered through a story written about him, “Moby-Dick”; when he should be remember by the luck he received while aboard two whaling vessels. In the story “Moby-Dick”, he is remember as Captain Ahab who tried to kill a sperm whale after it sunk his whaling ship. When the captain should be remembered for being a man who survived two ship wrecks, it hard enough to survive one ship wreck when your lost in the middle of the ocean. Captain Pollard is really lucky man. I am upset that at that time people still believed in curses etcetera and said he was bad luck to sail with. I think Captain Pollard should be remembered for a great sea captain and also as Captain Ahab.

  5. I believe this article focuses mainly on how historic events, such as Captain Pollard’s bravery, are hugely overlooked in our time period. This article honors the historic events that transpired during Captain Pollard’s time. I thought this article was very interesting and taught me the true story behind “Moby Dick”. I thought it was very amusing how people are finding all the gadgets that were used in Pollard’s days. I think Pollard was a very courageous man for doing what he did. Finally, I think his story should be shared with many people around the world so they can find out what Pollard went through.

  6. After reading this article, i think it is about an easily forgotten piece of history that shouldn’t be overlooked. This is a great piece of maritime history. If there wasn’t a book written about George Pollard’s struggle to stay alive, few people would even know about this past event. Captain Pollard’s will to survive on the sea after his first ship wreck was incredible. To resort to eating your cousin is extreme to say the least.

    • I completely agree with you Zach S., when you say that Captain Pollard should be remembered for the amazing events he survived. The events were so “extreme” that he had to resort to cannibalism on his own cousins (I’m sure Pollard was keeping there bodies, instead of having them have a burial at sea). I also agree that book helped people somewhat understand Pollards adventure even though the book was a little different.

  7. This article is about how we forget about people who have done extraordinary things in life. Take Captain Pollard for an example, he survived two shipwrecks and had to eat his own cousin. But he shouldn’t be remembered as a hero, because a hero is someone who saves the lives of others not themselves. Therefore, he shouldn’t be remembered as one. Plus, there have been many other people who have survived shipwrecks. How come they aren’t getting remembered? Sure he survived two shipwrecks and had to eat his own cousin, but if others had already survived things like that then its not really all that special. So I don’t think we should remember him, but we will end up remembering him because we found the wreckage of the of his ship and we will all remember how extraordinary it was.

  8. This article is about how when Melville wrote “Moby Dick”, Pollard the captain did not get full credit for any of the tale behind “Moby Dick”. I dont think that Pollard should get that much credit. I get that his ship was attacked by a sperm whale, but hes a professional and should have wrecked his second ship. I also understand that his first ship was given to him at the age of 28, but you should have killed the instead of pulling up next to it, pissing it off, and then letting it attack you and destroying your ship. Then to top it off he ate his own cousin. Seriously, in this world cannibolism is not accepted.

  9. I think that this article is basically about how some people can overlook the heroic deeds of people that were brave to survive. Captain Pollard was a courageous man whose life was a living story of the classic, “Moby Dick”; surviving two ship wrecks and facing extreme measures while out at sea. Although Pollard had to resort to cannibalism I still think that he and his great accomplishments should be honored. I also think that this article shows a point of having strong will to do whatever it takes to survive. This captain pulled through during difficult circumstances and lived to tell the story. That is something to be proud of!

  10. This article talks about Pollard who was a whaler. Pollard’s ship, Essex, was attacked by a whale. “Moby Dick” was inspired by this story. I kind of agree with this article for different reasons. I do agree that Pollard should get some recognition but, i don’t think he should be called a “hero”. I personally don’t think he did anything that important. Some people should at least know his name but i don’t think someone who ate their cousin is a hero. Although, he did survive a whale attack, I don’t think he should be noticed that much.

  11. I think that this article was to prove that people who should be remembered sometimes aren’t, and others are remembered for the wrong reasons. For example, people like Hitler and Saddam Hussein is remembered and he was an awful person and yet people like Captain Pollard are easy forgotten. I think that people should be remembered for positive things and negative people should not be remembered.

    • I agree with what you said about how people like Captain Pollard should be remembered instead of people who performed some “not-so-honorable” actions such as Hitler and Hussein.

  12. I think that the main point of this article was recognizing the fact that people have done amazing things in life, but they have received little to no credit. Captain Pollard had the worst of luck, and nearly died two times, on two different ships that sunk. He ate his cousin, and the story “Moby Dick” was based on him. I am pretty sure that everyone knew or at least heard of Moby Dick, but if you said Captain Pollard nobody would no what you are talking about. Hero’s like him in my opinion, do not get enough acknowledgment. I feel that anyone that has done something as special as he did, should get a little recognition. Seriously, the Moby Dick was based on Captain Pollard, and no one knows him. In my opinion that is wrong, people should know who a book is written about.

    • I understand that you think hes a good person, but you included in the part of good things he did that he ate his cousin. In our world right now and probably back then cannibolism was not accepted. Also if youre a professional you shouldnt have sunk your second ship.

    • I totally agree with you that hero’s like him do not get enough acknowledgment. I also agree with your last sentence on how people should know who a book is written about. Finally, I think mostly everything you said was true and I totally agree.

    • You are right. Pollard didn’t get much credit for his efforts and story of survival. He should be recognized. That doesn’t mean that Herman Melville shouldn’t be recognized as a great American novelist.

  13. I think that the author wrote the article to bring back the incredible story of Moby-Dick and most importantly, George Pollard Jr., a very brave sailor. But, I feel that the article mentions more about the author or Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, than the brave sailor in the story, Pollard. Of course you have to give Melville the credit or actually writing the story, but Pollard is the reason why it’s so incredible. So I think that Pollard should have earned more fame and credit in the article, than he did. Many people have heard of the story Moby-Dick, but not a lot know who Captain Pollard is, including myself, until I read the article. I agree that Pollard is a very important part of our history that many people don’t know of. It’s always good to remember brave and heroic people from history no matter how long ago it was.

    • Sam, you make a good point. I didn’t really think about it like that until I read your response. I don’t think Pollard should be known as a “hero”, but he definitely should have gotten more attention than he did. I had never heard of Pollard either, and he’s the one who inspired the story! He really deserves more remembrance.

  14. I think that this article was showing that the findings of the Captain Pollard’s sunken ship brought back the story “Moby Dick” to the public eye. Captain Pollard is not a hero to me. The only reason he is famous is because of the book written about him, which is considered a classic. He might be thought of as a hero, but what has he really done? He didn’t save anyone besides himself, and also ate his cousin in doing so. Is that a true heroic action?

  15. I think that the point of this article was to show people that we can easily forget people who have done incredible things, like Pollard. I think we need to change how people feel. This article is a good way for people to realize that we need to remember people important. If you think about it, without Pollard going on these two voyages and sinking both times, the book great ‘Moby-Dick’ probably wouldn’t even exist. Everybody gives all of their credit to the author, not that he shouldn’t get any credit, but all he did was turn Pollards experiences into a book.

    • I agree with you that the author should not get all the credit. Captain Pollard should probably get most of the credit, especially because the book was written on him.

  16. I think just because someone survived something doesn’t make them a hero. It is a very interesting story but he didn’t do anything heroic. He turned to cannibalism, which although it is hard to think about, it was the only option so it wasn’t like he put his life in jeopardy for the good of someone else.

    • I agree with you. I really don’t think that it is fair to call someone heroic if they did something as disturbing as eating their own cousin to keep themselves alive.

  17. After reading this article, then reading a few comments, I agree that the author of Moby Dick gets more credit then the Pollard who experienced it. Pollard had survived going on a dangerous journey at sea, his ship sinking because of a whale, and nearly starved to death before turning to cannibalism. Then Pollard agreed to take another journey and have it all happen to him again. The whale even found him again. Some might say that Pollard could have killed the whale, but he didn’t, because he didn’t believe in doing that. The author of Moby Dick just had to tell Pollard’s story and get immediate credit. I agree with Pollard, and I would have not kill the whale because the whale is a living creature too and they deserve to live just as much as we do. Even if they made my ship sink, I would stay calm and not shoot because it may turn out better in the future if this happens. When I read the comments, I saw Olivia’s comment, “I think that it’s sad how we forget the important people who made an impact on society and were role models and we remember people who did so little.” And I completely agree with her. People who do so little, today, tend to get more credit than others who do harder work. An example would be a scientist who worked so hard to discover something, and when they finally do they get less credit than they deserve. Others who may work in stores to sell the product may get more credit for having the product than the people who created the product. I agree with this article that Pollard should get more credit for surrvivng the shipwreck, than the person who wrote about it.

  18. I think that Captain Pollard deserved to be celebrated but not as much as this article gives him credit for. I do understand he survived ship wrecks and that is pretty big. I do give him credit, but people have survived worse things than Captain Pollard. I think that the author should get credit to. This article also says that Captain Pollard does not remember that much of it. But people have been paralyzed and in much worse conditions. I think Captain Pollard deserves credit but not as much as article gives him.

    • I agree with you in some places but not in all of them. I think your right that people have survived worse but i think the main point is that it didn’t only happen to him once, but twice and that’s what makes him special.

  19. I think the main point in this article was that we should never forget the protagonist; the hero. In this article, Captain Pollard was described as courageous, brave and full of strength, he never gave up. After he endured a ship wreck and was forced to turn to cannibalism, eating his own cousin to survive, he went on another voyage. He should be recognized as a true hero for his characteristics like no other.

  20. This article is about a sea captain’s survival and how he was remembered much less than the author who wrote about his adventure. This article has many mixed points. It talks about Captain Pollard’s adventure and then explains about the author. It is random in a way. Overall, I think the article is saying that he deserves to be remembered. I disagree but, also agree. I think he should be remembered but, not as a hero. He may have been brave and survived a lot of tough times but, many people are brave and they aren’t remembered. He should be remembered for this story but, he is not a hero in my opinion. He did not save anybody except for himself. A true hero wouldn’t be selfish and turn to cannibalism. I understand that he was brave but, still do not believe he is a hero.

  21. I think that Captain Pollard does not deserve as much credit as this article gives him. He didn’t really do much, he was just an ordinary man put in an extraordinary situation. Many other people could do what he did; survive a shipwreck and eat people. I feel like the real credit for this tale should go to Herman Melville, the author. He made Pollard’s story known to the world and turned his story into an instant classic. In conclusion Pollard is a regular man and Melville is an extraordinary writer.

    • I agree that the author was very important. Without him, the story would not be as well known as it is. I think the article does exaggerate about how much Pollard did but, I still believe he deserves some credit. He is the one who made the story what it is. Without him, there would be no story. I think the credit should be split more evenly because both men did something important. Many people may be able to do what he did but, for his time, he probably did something pretty amazing. That is why I understand that he is less remembered now and many people now feel that he shouldn’t be remembered but, if the people that disagree were living during his time, they might change their mind. I may not be sure of this but, at least I think so. Still, I mostly agree with you.

    • I agree with you, if it wasn’t for Mellville, many people wouldn’t have even heard of this story

    • I partly agree with you. Of course George Pollard Jr. was just an ordinary man put into an incredible situation, but I think what’s so important about him is his bravery and courage. Also even after that whale almost killed him, Pollard still went back to sea, which shows he conquered a fear. I feel that anyone could have written Pollard’s story, so I think Herman Melville shouldn’t have been recognized as much. But, you still had a good view point of the article.

    • I agree with you. Captain Pollard was just like every other sailor except he had a good story to tell once he got back to the dock.

  22. This article is about a hero from the past who was later forgotten about. Personally, I don’t think that the story about Captain Pollard isn’t one that should be remembered. To me a hero is someone that did something brave or heroic for another person in need. Captain Pollard doesn’t exactly seem like a hero to me especially because he ate his cousin. I also thought this story was written to tell a story of a man who persevered through a challenge. This story is interesting and different but not one that needs to be recognized.

    • I think you have a good point by saying, Captain Pollard doesn’t exactly seem like a hero because he ate his cousin. But he did take brave and heroic challenges to finish the journey from Nantucket to Hawaii, so i personally still think that he deserves to be recognized.

    • I completely agree with you. I don’t thin Pollard should be remembered or be a hero. He did overcome a challenge but he didn’t do anything amazing for everyone else. It is an interesting story but not interesting enough. Good job!

  23. This article is about the captain the sailed a ship and had an experience that inspired “Moby Dick”, and about the discovery of his ship. Personally i don’t have any comments on this post. I carries absolutely no point to me and i think that it is more like a news article in that it only states some facts. I also don’t see what the big Whoop-dee-doo is over captain Pollard (except the cannabalism part). His ship was attacked by a sperm whale, he had to eat some people and it inspired a book. I just really don’t care at all.

  24. I believe that this article has mixed messages. First it talks about someone finding the boat of Captain Pollard and then about how Captain Pollard didn’t get any credit in Melville’s book, Moby Dick and then it was talking about how he persevered and went back on another whaling boat. ???? I just don’t see what it may be about, but to connect them all together i would say that the importance of this article is to show that we don’t always give credit to the ones that really went through hardship and still managed to go through it again.

    • I agree with you. I found this article gave off mixed messages and was very hard to get a strong main point out of. If I had to think of one main point then I think that it would be that Captain Pollard deserves more credit then he gets (but I do not personally agree with that).

  25. I believe that this article is about not giving up. It is not about remembering Captain Pollard. he was just used as an example of someone who didn’t give up. It would be like writing a children’s book with a fictional character who didn’t give up. True, Moby Dick is a book for people of more maturity, but all books are supposed to have a “so what?’ captain Pollard may not be an ideal role model because he ate his own cousin, but he did what he had to do to survive. “After the Essex sank, Pollard and his crew floated through the Pacific for three months, a journey punctuated by death, starvation, madness and, in the end, cannibalism.” That takes incredible courage and a strong will to live. And yet, Pollard ahd the guts to sail again. This story is about being able to get back up on your feet after hardships.

  26. I think that the main point of this article was not to forget the actions of people long ago. I understand that people have done great things like save lives and invent something that can change society, but to me Captain Pollard’s actions do not meet those standards to be remembered. All that Captain Pollard did was survive two ship wrecks, eat his own cousin. I do not think those actions do not deserve to be remembered. However in current society a ” hero” is probably much different from back when Captain Pollard’s accident occurred. Now an accident like this would be something that should be in the movies, or written a book. In the current media if you survive you become a hero. Currently there is a new movie out in theatre is called “127 hours”. The whole point of that movie is for a man that got stuck in between a rock and a wall to survive. Some people look at him as a hero for surviving. In conclusion, it depends on who you ask whether or not Captain Pollard is a hero.

    • I agree that in Pollard’s time requirements for becoming a hero were probably different. But I do think that his actions deserved to be remembered. He went through a terrible tradgedy, and while his actions were not ideal, he did what he had to do to survive. (He probably didn’t kill his cousin; he was probably already dead.) And besides, we remember bad things everyday. Bad happenings always fill the news too.

    • Yes. I agree that sometimes a hero is decided on by the person around them. That each person’s perspective of a hero is also different. People probably didn’t see as harpooning whales to death and killing and eating your cousin as heroic things to do. So that is probably why he didn’t get recognized as one.

  27. I think that Captain Pollard does not deserve as much credit as this article gives him. He didn’t really do much, he was just an ordinary man put in an extraordinary situation. Many other people could do what he did; survive a shipwreck and eat people. I feel like the real credit for this tale should go to Jesse McKinley, the author. He made Pollard’s story known to the world and turned his story into an instant classic. In conclusion Pollard is a regular man and McKinley is an extraordinary writer.

    • I agree with you completely because there have been runs of people that have sunk at sea and survived between now and when Captain Pollard survived. None of those other men that survived got a book written after them. What makes Captain Pollard so special?

    • Ignore this post please I made a mistake.

  28. gingerjames12

    I think that although this article is cool because scientists found the inspiration for Moby Dick, Pollard’s achievements shouldn’t be celebrated. There are people who lived through the Holocaust, through the sinking of the Titanic, Through Hurricane Katrina, and were celebrating a guy who ate his cousin? Yeah, maybe it was a matter of life and death, but aren’t there fish in the ocean? I agree with what Josh said, which was, “There are people who have been struck by lightening multiple times and there not famous, so why should someone who survived two shipwrecks and then did nothing else in his life be remembered for surviving a terrible accident?” Maybe it’s a pretty cool accomplishment, but far worse things have occurred to people and this is just a minor problem when compared to the Haiti earthquake or the tsunami on the Asian coast.

  29. I feel that Pollard was not a brave man but the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. His ship was attacked and sunk by an angry sperm whale and according to basic biology animals usually don’t get that made unless you , I don’t know, maybe shoot a harpoon at it! In all seriousness though I think What made pollard brave was not the survival of the first shipwreck but the motivation and heart to go out and try it again. I’ mnot saying I’m a coward but if that happened to me i’d probally settle down in Kansas. The fact that he get’s knocked down and gets wright back up after eating your cousin just astounds me and I bet it astounded the writer of “Moby Dick” as well because isn’t that the theme? Motivation? After all captain Ahab or whatever his name is keeps trying to get the whale and through many failed attemps just keeps trying. I don’t know i might be thinking of another book.

  30. Jack D. Moynihan

    It is very intresting to learn that the story of Moby-Dick is based of a true story. It doesnt seem that the book gives any “consolation” to the men who lost thier lives in the real ordeal. Captain Pollard showed great valor and inspired a book after his treaturous trip. Many dont even know who he is, but this article brings his name to attention. For being the man that inspired a classic novel or bravery and hardship.

  31. I think this article is about how sometimes we forget about the true heroes in history and their significant contributes to society. For example, in this article, Captain Pollard survived a ship wreck from a huge whale. After being lost at sea, he was forced to turn to cannibalism and courageously decided to go on another voyage called the Two Brothers back to Nantucket. That ship sank as well, and although he survived, his career did not. “You just imagine this man who had the courage to go back out to sea, and to have this happen?” Dr. Gleason said. “It’s incredible.” “He definitely garnered his men’s respect,” Mr. Philbrick said, “But he was twice unlucky.” Shouldn’t we be congratulating Captain Pollard’s amazing journey instead of rock stars who are really just drug addicts?

    • I disagree with what you said. I don’t think “it’s incredible” and we shouldn’t be congratulating Captain Pollard just because of his journeys. I especially don’t think we should recognize him because he ate his cousin.

  32. I think that this article about a real-life “Moby Dick” story, and how the survivor was not remembered as much as the author of a story based on events that happened to the survivor, is unappealing to me. While he actually had to go through all that, TWICE, what did he actually do besides survive? He didn’t do something that we can see and use. It’s like the movie 127 Hours, which is far more known than the actual survivor. With the media, we can actually read about or view the event. What the survivor had to offer is IN the media, so he’s not remembered as much as the person who wrote the novel/ acted in the film based on the real events.

    • Captain Pollard did more than just survive. He turned to cannibalism and ate his cousin to survive and even after a terrible shipwreck, he still had to courage to proceed and navigate another ship. He should be celebrated because of his brave journey in the Hawaiian islands back to Nantucket.

      • Michele i’d call eating a cousin surviving. There are many shipwreck cannibles out there and they are all probaly mad at this guy for taking all the credit for eating his cousin, i bet the other guys helped. hahahhaha I’m kidding. The fact that he went through this and still managed to push through the horrific memories and try it again which is the hole book “Moby Dick”.
        P.S. I love 127 hours and agree with you ian he is more known
        Why Is that?

  33. This article No ‘Moby-Dick’: A Real Captain, Twice Doomed written by Jesse McKinley is mainly about that sometimes we forget about the people who have done things that they should be congratulating them for. Like in this article we should be congratulating Captain Pollard for surviving two ship wrecks. Captain Pollard should be remembered even though he had to do cruel things to survive like eat his cousin. But for a life or death situation most people would do whatever it takes to survive and not die. Dr. Gleason, for one, hopes that this discovery in the reefs of the Hawaiian islands, a place that could boggle any sailor, today or in 1823, goes a way toward repairing Pollard’s legacy. Dr. Gleason said “He was up against these incredible odds, and it’s an incredibly hazardous place.” Pollard had to do whatever it took to survive in that hazardous place.

  34. I believe the point of this article is to honor the true heroes of history and/or of the world. The heroes of today’s children are not who they should be. For example, athletes and rockstars are the heroes of many children, yet these “heroes” have not contributed to society in a positive way. On a lighter note, my family and I go up to Nantucket all the time and there is always a lot of anchors and whale items there.

    • I can partially agree, but how is he a hero? What did he do that affects us? While athletes and artists can seem like heroes, they provide entertainment, as opposed to the survivor, who was just some person long ago that lived through a disaster.

    • 1. who says that the atheletes and rockstars have not contributed to society in a posite way. I mean, look at Bono (lead singer U2). Multiple charities created to help people. Is that not positive? I think that you should stop using those generalizations.
      2. And there are plenty of heroes today that are what they should be. (again with those generalizations). Plus that is only your opnion.

  35. I don’t really see the point of this article No ‘Moby-Dick’: A Real Captain, Twice Doomed written by Jesse McKinley. When I was in preschool I liked the story Moby Dick because I thought it had a funny name, but now its just a boring piece of writing. Why should Captain Pollard be remembered for surviving two shipwrecks and eating his cousin? That’s just cruel. I thought that this article was interesting when they talked about discovering the wreckage, but I really didn’t see the point of telling people about Captain Pollard.

    • Josh, this is real true things that have transpired. You don’t believe a man eating another man is important, or a historic ship being recovered?

    • gingerjames12

      I agree 100% with what you said. People have faced far worse than eating their cousin and surviving two shipwrecks. People like Pollard should me mentioned but not as highly as a Titanic survivor or something like that.

    • I agree with you. I also thought that the story Moby Dick had a funny name. Plus, I also don’t think that Captain Pollard should be remembered because other people also survived shipwrecks, so therefore it isn’t really a big deal. Third, I agree with you because eating your cousin is disgusting. Nice job.

  36. I think the point of this article was to show how we easily forget those who have done incredible things, and had courage and strength to get back up and not give up, but yet, we remember those who’ve done so little in society. In this article, Captain Pollard is described as a man who has lived through incredible measures. He survived a ship wreck caused by a huge whale and was forced to turn to cannibalism after being lost at sea, but yet, he decided to once again go on another voyage because he had courage unlike many others. Also, Pollard wasn’t hard-wired like other sailors on killing whales because they meant more money, he was a thoughtful man who was gun-shy and “He definitely garnered his men’s respect,” Mr. Philbrick said. “But he was twice unlucky.” Meanwhile, Melville, the man who wrote the famous book Moby Dick is more popular today while he has accomplished a lot less. I think that it’s sad how we forget the important people who made an impact on society and were role models and we remember people who did so little. I think its good that an exhibit with remains of his shipwreck will be on display, that way people can appreciate and remember what Captain Pollard did.

    • I semi agree with you. Moby Dick is a very old story told to each generation, I never would’ve thought that it was based on a true story. Even though I think that it is great to remember amazing things people have done, I don’t think that this is “worthy” of remembering. There are people who have been struck by lightening multiple times and there not famous, so why should someone who survived two shipwrecks and then did nothing else in his life be remembered for surviving a terrible accident?

      • You have a good point that someone who survived a shipwreck shouldn’t automatically be famous. However, in Captain Pollard’s case he didn’t just survive a shipwreck and eat his cousin, I think it’s deeper than that. He was forced to turn to cannibalism because it was a matter of life and death, and yet after that nightmare, he faced his fears and had the courage to continue, which is something most people wouldn’t do. He should be remembered for his bravery and strength because, I don’t think many people would be able to do that.

    • I completly agree with you. I believe it is sad that people who work so hard get so little credit. Some of the most famous people today get more credit than they deserve, and those who work really hard to change the world get very little credit. Pollard had experienced a lot a deserves more credit then he had gotten.

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