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Moby Dick Cousin Lends a Hand in Alameda

In case you're wondering what you'd be up against if you ever went mano a mano with a sperm whale, you can get a good idea from a display case at the Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda.

A whale flipper may look rather small when it's stuck on the side of whale.

But when it's viewed side by side with its human counterpart, a hand, it's easy to see how Moby Dick so easily smote Captain Ahab's ship, the Pequod, to smithereens.

Moby Dick was a sperm whale, and although sperm whales are not usually found around Alameda, you can still get a glimpse of their leviathan dimensions in a display case at the Crab Cove Visitor Center.

The case contains a full-sized replica of the bones of a sperm whale flipper, the evolutionary equivalent of a human hand. It's placed next to the bones of an entire human arm. The "hand" of the whale easily dwarfs an entire human arm.

The case contains other items and information about Moby's kind, including samples of whale products like canned whale meat, liquid "whale plant food" and scrimshaw.

Besides offering food for ruminations about the forks in the evolutionary path taken by our mammal ancestors, the Visitor Center offers a number of other displays about marine life and shorebirds, including live bay creatures in an 800-gallon acquarium system.

The center is located at Crown Memorial State Park, which is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District.

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