…then over and over slowly revolved like a waning world.
~ Herman Melville, Moby Dick
The passage describes the death throes of a harpooned sperm whale. I remembered it this past Saturday while sitting aboard my father-in-law’s boat, bobbing a few miles off the coast. The dreadful revolutions I witnessed, however, weren’t those of the whales we sighted in the distance but those of my own stomach. I managed to keep breakfast intact only by slow breathing and staring hard at the horizon, meanwhile providing comic relief for several sea otters that winked as we passed, and a half dozen Dall’s porpoises that circled the boat, chittering hilariously and gasping from their blowholes. After seeing the headless, bloated carcass of a seal float by, I was sure I’d never eat again. But no sooner were we back on terra firma than I recovered my appetite and took revenge on the ocean by consuming a generous slice of halibut cooked in a lemon, butter and caper sauce. It was delicious.