"If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!"

The image of a fearsome, albino sperm whale had already been spread through the popular imagination by explorer Jeremiah N. Reynolds, who in 1839 had published a collection of alleged first-hand encounters with an enigmatic white whale named 'Mocha Dick'.  The creature had supposedly terrorised numerous vessels in the South Pacific during the early 19th century, before being killed in 1838.