At the age of 22, Herman Melville joined a whale ship bound for the South Pacific. Aboard, he's lent a copy of "Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex," a true story about a vengeful whale that will capture his imagination.
Herman Melville's epic ocean adventure "Moby Dick" is an American masterpiece. But was this stirring tale of violence and revenge simply an allegory, or were there real giants of the deep deliberately attacking whaling ships? With the help of centuries old witness accounts and modern day science, we explain how the legend of the great white whale came to be. Then we determine if the multiple sperm whale assaults on ships in the 19th century were indeed premeditated and coordinated.
Watch this show online now.
Stream hundreds of shows by starting your free trial to Smithsonian Channel Plus.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.