Lake Peigneur

Nov. 20, 1820:  The whaleship Essex sinks after, according to its surviving crewmembers, a massive sperm whale rammed the ship.  Eight of the twenty-one crew survived, but were not rescued until six months later.  The incident is the basis of Herman Melville’s 1851 classic "Moby Dick."

Nov. 20, 1980:  Lake Peigneur, Lousiana is the site of a bizarre environmental accident.  A Texaco oil drilling rig working on the lake’s surface punches through the roof of a Diamond Crystal salt mine beneath the lake. The lake empties into the cavernous mine, sucking downstream water over what is briefly Louisiana’s most magnificent waterfall (at right). Two oil rigs, several barges, a tugboat, and about 65 acres of previously-dry land are sucked into the hole.

Nov. 20, 2009:  The climate science community is shaken by revelations that hackers stole thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit.  Less than two weeks before the Copenhagen Climate Summit, the snarky, decidedly un-scientific tone in some private emails between climate scientists dominates news coverage.   Investigations clear the scientists of misconduct.  Other probes fail to find who stole the emails.

Nov. 20, 2011:  Scientists unearth 75 nearly-intact whale fossil skeletons in the Chilean desert.  The whales, more than 2 million years old, were in what might have been a prehistoric saltwater lagoon.  The valuable find also included a dolphin with walrus-like tusks.

Photo: Wikipedia

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.