Now we know the truth. The whale was a willing sacrifice. Says The Seattle Times:
Around 9:30, the crew saw another whale. This one, about 40 feet long, surfaced and came to the two boats.
"It chose us," Johnson said.
Into the animal's flesh, crew members plunged at least five stainless-steel whaling harpoons and four seal harpoons "so we wouldn't lose it," Johnson said. They then shot the whale with a gun powerful enough to fire a slug four miles.
(Photo of the satisfied whale beneath jubilant hunters © Alan Berner/The Seattle Times.)