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10 of the world's most famous whales

By: Shea Gunther on June 20, 2011, 1 p.m.
Herman Melville's Arrowhead

Photo: Pablo Sanchez/Flickr

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Moby Dick

It doesn't get more iconic than Moby Dick, the subject of Herman Melville's classic story about one man's obsessive quest to kill the great white whale.

Published in 1851, "Moby Dick" tells the tale of Captain Ahab, a whaler driven by revenge to hunt down the whale that took his leg during a previous encounter. Moby Dick was based in part on Mocha Dick, a real whale that swam the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century, racking up wins in battles with whaling ships.