Moby-Dick, Coast to Coast

At the same time that marine scientists sighted a white killer whale off the Aleutian Islands of Alaska last week, a group of fifth graders were testifying to members of the Massachusetts legislature about a bill up for consideration that would make Moby-Dick: or,The Whale by Herman Melville the official book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


According to an Associated Press article:

The whale was spotted last month while scientists aboard the Oscar Dyson, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ship, were conducting an acoustic survey of pollock near Steller sea lion haulout sites.

It had been spotted once in the Aleutians years ago but had eluded researchers since, even though they had seen many of the more classic black and white whales over the years.

NOAA press release: Rare White Killer Whale Spotted in Alaskan Waters From NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson March 6, 2008 (Photo credit: NOAA)

Moby-Dick_spine Last Friday, March 7, 2008, nine students from several fifth grade classes from 2 New Bedford elementary schools made their case before legislators, VIPs, teachers, fellow classmates and parents, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum that Moby-Dick be designated the official book of the State of Massachusetts. (Students testify on behalf of ‘Moby-Dick’, New Bedford Standard Times March 8, 2008)
Unfortunately Massachusetts already has an official book and it’s William Bradford’s “The History of Plimouth Plantation” which was adopted by the Commonwealth in 1897. But I would venture a bet that none of you have read Bradford’s tome; I certainly haven’t. Actually, even though it’s an American classic, I bet few have read Moby Dick from cover to cover. Here, affirmative.

But these kids are right. A State like Massachusetts needs and deserves an American classic like Moby-Dick. I’m sure our white whale friend in Alaska made his recent appearance in support of this too. So if you live in the Bay State, write your state senators and representatives and let them know that you support House Bill 3964, making Moby-Dick the official book.

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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