Did you hear the one about the sailors who landed on an island, built a campfire and then got blown sky-high by a geyser? No? How about the sailors who landed on an island, built a campfire and then the whole island did a deep-dive, taking them with it?
These are just a couple of tales that made the rounds in the middle ages and both are based on the misconception that whales like to float at the surface of the water and so accumulate sand on their backs; sailors in turn mistake the whales for islands and when they make camp, may either find themselves unceremoniously caught up in the whale’s blow-hole eruption or, more commonly, they make a campfire and when it gets too hot, it startles the whale into diving into the depths, taking the sailors with it to their deaths.
Another commonly-told story about the whale…
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