It’s well-known that Herman Melville’s classic, Moby-Dick, was inspired by the real-life adventures of George Pollard. In 1820, a huge white whale felled Pllard's ship the Essex, an ordeal portrayed in the new movie In the Heart of the Sea.
But did you know that Pollard’s story has a sequel? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling attention to what happened next with a documentary about Pollard’s second ship.
Lightning Strikes Twice: The Tragic Tale of the Nantucket Whaleship ‘Two Brothers’ tells the story of Pollard’s post-Essex years. Amazingly, Pollard didn’t pack in his maritime career after his hellish brush with shipwreck and cannibalism. Rather, he took the helm of the whaling ship Two Brothers and headed towards the Pacific Ocean for more maritime adventures just a year after his ordeal.
As Pollard neared the Hawaiian Islands, the weather turned foul and disaster struck again. This time the ship hit a coral reef and another whaleship rescued the entire crew. Spooked by his second brush with death, Pollard retired forever.
But that wasn’t the end of the story: In 2008, a team of NOAA archeologists found a mysterious anchor within the borders of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a protected area that includes nearly 140,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean off of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The investigation that ensued eventually revealed that the shipwreck was in fact Two Brothers—a bizarre Hawaiian connection to Moby-Dick that has yielded critical insights into what life was like on a Nantucket whaler. Artifacts from the Hawaiian wreck made their way back to Nantucket, but may travel to other museums over the next several years.
Take a look at the NOAA documentary—it's hard not to empathize with a captain who endured not one, but two epic shipwrecks.