UCR Professor of Cetology Captain Ahab has been awarded a $5 million grant by the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) based in Japan. The grant will be used to support the professor’s five-year voyage to hunt the legendary sperm whale Moby Dick, who was responsible for over 30 shipwrecks last year.
Approximately $3 million went to purchase a world-class vessel for the mission entitled “The Pequod,” which will travel across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to seek out the whale. The rest of the funds will go toward paying Ahab’s staff of over 30 crew members, all from diverse backgrounds including Polynesia and Spain, along with research supplies, such as harpoons, and ship maintenance.
Ahab’s research consists specifically of whale psychology and neurologic behavioral science involving overly aggressive cetaceans. With the research, Ahab hopes to identify the cause of this aggressive behavior and neutralize any whales who may disrupt the fishing and boating industries across the oceans.
Much of this involves visiting the waters near South America where a majority of the attacks by the whale have been reported. According to Ahab’s crewmember Ishmael Essex, the whale is described as having “a peculiar snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical white hump, with the rest of his body being of stripes and patches between white and gray.”
“Our research has fallen behind by at least two years due to attacks by this blasted whale,” Ishiro Konikawa, one of the main ICR researchers, stated. “Even our best crew have not had luck with hunting this menace. We need Ahab and all the help we can so business can return to normal.”
Ahab stated that he would seek Moby Dick “over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush,” while eating whole sardine cans.
The researcher faced his own run-in with the whale itself on a trip last year while researching near Argentina. The incident resulted in the loss of one of his vessels and his left leg.
“That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him,” Ahab explained as his main reason he chose to go on this project.
The UCR School of Cetology has consistently been ranked first in the world, according to media outlets such as Whale Hunting Monthly. Dean of UCR’s cetology school Reginald Starbuck — who the coffee chain is named after — believes this project will expand its legacy.
“As the first UC ever which established a cetology program at its launch, we owe a duty to the world to promote cetacean education and undertake research projects in which we study whale aggression,” Starbuck stated in a press release. “It is our duty to promote the economic needs of the whaling market and fish economy in general.”