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Starbuck island is a small island located in Kiribati, near Tahiti. It was discovered by a whaling ship in the 19th century and named after its captain, Valentine Starbuck. The main item of importance on the island is an abundance of bat guano. It also has two coral reefs off its shore and has been a trap for 3 shipwrecks since its discovery.


Why it is important:

Herman Melville, in his novel Moby Dick, named Starbuck the first mate after the island. Why would Melville think of Starbuck island when writing his masterpiece? Because the shape of Starbuck island closely resembles a whale.

While the explanation as to why Starbucks Island is important is quite poetic, it is also completely wrong. Edward Starbuck and Tristam Coffin were the first two men to inspect Nantucket Island on behalf of the ten First Purchasers and their investors who then bought the island from Thomas Mayhew for "thirty pounds...and two Beaver hats one for myself and one for my wife.". Edward Starbuck moved there in the early 1660's. The Starbucks and Coffins went on to become two of the most important and wealthy families in Nantucket and quite involved in the whaling trade. As Melville wrote in Moby-Dick: "Thus have these . . . Nantucketers overrun and conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders." Melville bases his story on the real life tragic tale of the Essex, recently recounted in In the Heart of the Sea written by Nathaniel Philbrick. By Occam's Razor we must conclude that Melville named his character Starbuck after the seagoing Starbucks from Nantucket.

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