Most of us have read Moby Dick at one time or the other and are familiar with Herman Melville's story of a ship captain named Ahab who seeks vengeance against a white whale. The book is an American classic and is memorable for the consequences of Ahab's actions which result in the deaths of everyone except the narrator, Ishmael.
But what many don't know is that the true story that inspired it was so shocking, Melville was forced to leave out the goriest details from his book.
In 1819, the whaleship Essex set out for a whaling expedition, that was expected to take two and a half years. Just two days after it set off, a storm hit the ship, damaging parts of it.
When the Essex finally arrived at the whaling grounds, they found the waters were all fished out. So the 20-man crew set off even further than they had expected, to the South Pacific Ocean. With experienced men on board, and a 'lucky' ship, nothing could possibly go wrong. Or so they thought.