Aboard the Conifer: My, How You've Grown!

J.J. the whale, a 10-ton foster child, is returned to her real home in the sea

At first it appeared to be wayward scraps of paper lying on the dock, but as the Coast Guard cutter Conifer left its moorings last week with the squirming body of a 31-ft., 19,200-lb. gray whale stretched across the width of the deck, a glint of light disclosed the discarded object's true identity: a paperback copy of Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

That it was left behind is appropriate, since this particular voyage was the very antithesis of Melville's great saga. For the first time in humankind's 5,000 years of seafaring, the prized whale lying on the deck wasn't a trophy of...

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