Podcast Notes: Eaten Alive!

Note the hand.
Note the hand.
Image credit: Tom Tyler

So we're really excited about our episode "Eaten Alive!" since the possibility of whole, live consumption by a giant predator is truly the stuff of human nightmares. As we discuss in the episode, there's also something beautiful about it. Be sure to check out the accompanying mini-gallery for a handful of cool images of such things as a sperm whale painting and Islamic Jonah.

But in this post I wanted to point out a couple of things. First of all, our two coolest sources on this were Mary Roach's excellent new book "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" and "Swallowed by a whale -- a true tale?" by Ben Shattuck. Plus a few other sources here and there, but those are the ones I recommend you seek out on your own.

I also wanted to share the wondrously gothic and grotesque photograph above. That's Captain Edmund Gardner and you'll notice his left hand is but a whale-mangled stump. Here's why, from Shattuck's article:

The famous Quaker captain Edmund Gardner's entanglement with a whale paints the clearest picture of what might happen - he was photographed post-attack, his left hand, fingerless and gnarled, centered in the shot. Gardner and his crew were off the coast of Peru in 1839. They lowered for a sperm whale. Gardner, as captain, was the boat header. After the whale was harpooned, he switched places with the boat steerer to kill the whale with a lance. The whale turned on the boat, and bit the bow. An article in Our Flag - a mid-19th-century publication out of New Bedford - lightly describes the whale biting the bow as it might "the best part of an apple-tart in the munch of a hungry school-boy." His crew retrieved him, put him in the bottom of the boat, and thought he was dead. But he croaked out that he wanted to go to a doctor in Peru, where he convalesced.

Again, read the rest of his article because it's a wonderfully written piece. Oh, and let's not forget the music we featured in the episode. You can buy the Decemberists' "The Mariner's Revenge Song" right here. Let's enjoy an animated version:


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.