The wire services are carrying stories about a 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month which 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 3½-inch, arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale's age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old.
The bomb lance fragment, lodged in a bone between the whale's neck and shoulder blade, was likely manufactured in New Bedford, on the southeast coast of Massachusetts, a major whaling center at that time. The bomb lance was patented in 1879 and was used for about twenty years. It was probably shot at the whale from a heavy shoulder gun around 1890.
Curators at the New Bedford Whaling Museum identified the 1890 projectile.
Marine biologists have long thought that whales lived very long lives, but last month's discovery was the first proof they have found. This whale was alive when Benjamin Harrison was President.
You can read more on CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/06/13/century.old.whale.ap/index.html.