It was the winter of 1820. Essex, a whaling ship from New England, was on its usual quest for ambergris and blubber when it was assaulted by a sea creature of Leviathan proportions. Behind this historical maritime disaster was a 26 metre-long (the length of almost two school buses) whale nicknamed “Mocha Dick”, a whale with an almost human sense of vengeance and who would be immortalised in Herman Melville’s well-known tale, Moby Dick.

There are no sperm whales  in Singapore’s waters, but here are five creatures who could potentially pull a Moby Dick on us if they were bigger.

1) The Merlion

The Merlion merlions. Credit:

The Merlion merlions. Credit:

Surely every adult Singaporean has mocked this half-lion, half-fish chimera which is purportedly a guardian of our port city’s prosperity. Created by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (predecessor of Singapore Tourism Board) in 1964, the emblem was officially registered as a trademark in 1966. This means that until today, STB has exclusive rights to use the symbol, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from making jokes about it.

Local drag queen Kumar has famously said that he and the merlion are similar, except that the the merlion has a lion’s top and a mermaid’s bottom, while he’s the other way around. Colloquially, the word “merlion” is also used as a verb, as in: “My baby merlioned all over me after his feed just now. I think he’s either overfed, or not feeling too well.”

If the merlion were a real creature, and as big as the statue in Sentosa, it’s definitely going to demand that we finally show it some respect.

2) Captive dolphins

The bottlenose dolphin's curved beak gives it a resting nice-face, but that doesn't mean it isn't thinking vengeful thoughts. Credit: Yahoo Singapore

The bottlenose dolphin’s curved beak gives it a resting nice-face, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t thinking vengeful thoughts. Credit: Yahoo Singapore

A certain aquarium in Sentosa created a furore among naturalists and animal rights activists when it announced that it would include in its exhibits a whale shark and a pod of indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins. In the end, it stopped pursuing plans to display captive whale sharks, but the bottlenose dolphins made it. Since the dolphins have been acquired from the Solomon Islands in 2008, a total of four of them have died. Two newly-acquired manta rays have also died while in quarantine in 2014, “despite the best efforts and round-the-clock care provided by the husbandry and veterinary teams” of the marine life park.

Heck, everyone knows that marine life are super finnicky to rear in captivity. Even with a home aquarium, your pet fish (see point below) could die if there is anything wrong with the pH balance of the water, type of food, oxygen levels, ecosystem of the tank… What more commercial aquarium exhibits? Considering that dolphins are higher animals (like sperm whales), and live in pods, they could totally plan revenge for their fallen comrades, wreak havoc in the marine life park and send a strong message to the community.

3) The pet goldfish you flushed down the toilet 

You probably replace it the moment it dies. Credit:

You probably replace it the moment it dies. Credit:

Goldfish should rank as the world’s most shortlived house pet (unless you’re fond of mayflies). When it crosses the rainbow bridge, how many people would accord it a proper burial instead of letting it go down the sewage? It has every reason to be angry at humans for treating them as a dispensable part of the house décor, but there’s one problem other than size: Its memory is so short-term, it probably wouldn’t remember the wrongs it has suffered.

4) Wild otters

Known as Bishan5, these otters have gallivanted not just Bishan Park, but also the St. Andrews campus. Credit: Jeffrey Teo via The Straits Times

Known as Bishan5, these otters have gallivanted not just Bishan Park, but also the St. Andrews campus in Potong Pasir. Credit: Jeffrey Teo via The Straits Times

This family of smooth-coated otters captured our hearts when they were first spotted in Bishan Park. The National Parks Board proudly posted the birth of the otter triplets on their Facebook page back in April 2015, calling them SG50 babies. Later in October, the whole family of five were spotted making their way around the St. Andrews campus, much to widespread amusement on the Internet. Amusement turned to outrage just two days later, when an angler was caught on camera for baiting the otters with a fishing line and hook. One of the pups appeared to be limping afterwards but thankfully recovered without undergoing treatment.

It’s already enough that we humans are polluting the otters’ home with litter – please don’t make them mistrust us. They probably won’t go on a rampage like Dick the whale (the worst recorded damage they are capable of is eating tens of thousands of dollars worth of ornamental fish) but they can do worse – leave.

5) The abandoned pet terrapin

Simmering underneath the terrapin's sage appearance could be a dish of revenge. Credit:

The terrapin’s sage appearance belies its tendency for aggression. Credit:

Before you think of getting a terrapin as a pet, be warned – they live way longer than goldfish. You may have picked up Mr Tiny when he was only 3 cm in length, but he can eventually grow up to more than 22 cm and develop a tendency to bite. So many terrapin owners eventually abandon these creatures at shrines, or release them into the wild to fend for themselves. These reptiles are naturally aggressive, so you can be sure that they already hate us. Thank goodness they don’t grow up to 22 metres.

But sperm whales do. And this particular one in In The Heart Of The Sea has a bone or two to pick with the men on board the whaleship Essex.

Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Thor – I mean, Chris Hemsworth, as first mate Owen Chase. Credit: Golden Village Pictures

Based on the book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea reveals how 21 men are pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive. Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain (Benjamin Walker) searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate (Chris Hemsworth) still seeks to bring the great whale down.

Who wins? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.