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Timor Tom


Timor Tim



Timor Tim was a famous bull sperm whale from the 19th century, referenced in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick: 

Was it not so, O Timor Tom! thou famed leviathan, scarred like an iceberg, who so long did'st lurk in the Oriental straits of that name, whose spout was oft seen from the palmy beach of Ombay?

 Ishmael, "Chapter 45: The Affidavit", Moby-Dick: Or, the Whale (18 October 1851)

Chapter 87 "The Grand Armada", Melville mentions, amongst the immense herd, the possibility of an old white bull, like a sacred Siamese elephant.


Timor Tim was also called Timor Jack and Timor Tom. This gigantic white whale fought English whalers in the early 1800s near small islands of oriental Sonde (Lamalera, Coral Triangle). He was linked to Lamalera traditional sperm whalers, who are the most ancient of the world. In their representations, white sperm whales are both protectors of boats and ships and moreover, supervisors of their conception and building. Thomas Beale considered that he was "the hero of many strange stories."



Timor Jack



Melville offered Timor Tim an honorific obituary, emphasizing in addition that he escaped his enemies for a very long time, probably longer than any other legendary fighting sperm whale.

Dr. Lawrence Blair in his TV program Myths Magic and Monsters, suggests that Timor Tom was a gigantic albino sperm whale, who did not flee whalers, but attacked them and drowned many of them.





Like New Zealand Tom (NZ Tom), he belongs to the "prehistory" of first Pacific war. Timor Tom was clearly self confident and fearless. Crews of English whaleships thought he always destroyed any boat sent against him.


Perhaps he was finally killed in a battle against a whaling fleet, who found, as wrote Thomas Beale, the contrivance of lashing barrels at the end of harpoons with which he was struck, and while his attention was directed and divided amongst several boats, means were found of giving the raging bull his death wound.


An English harpoonner, Bully Sprague, told he had been swallowed by Timor Tom during the last trip of Anaconda whaleship (so, many years after the supposed period of sperm whale's death). But his story includes so many fabulous aspects that it's probably a joke.


There were probably several sperm whales named "Timor Tom" up to 1860, as Coral Triangle was a step for sperm whales coming from southern and central Pacific and going to Japan for their seasonal grounds.





Herman Melville drew from multiple references about unusually large, white or aggressive sperm whales for his literary masterpiece, Moby Dick.




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