In February 1891, the Star of the East was whale hunting off the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. While pursuing a large sperm whale, one of the two boats was capsized by the leviathan. The hunters went on to kill the whale but feared two of their men had drowned. James Bartley was one of the missing fishermen. The crew mourned their loss but also had a tremendous task of preparing this giant sea monster. They worked until midnight removing blubber from the eighty-foot long, eighty-ton fish. The next morning they hoisted the whale's stomach on deck. To their surprise, they saw faint movement.
M. de Parville, science editor of the Journal des Debats, investigated the incident. He verified that James Bartley was indeed the reason for the movement. When the stomach was cut open, Bartley was found unconscious. He was bathed in seawater and placed in the captain’s quarters for two weeks. He was confused and mentally disturbed. Yet, in four weeks he had fully recovered and was able to recount his experience. For the rest of his life he carried the scars of a bleached white face, neck, and hands from the whale’s gastric acid.