Re: OT;Feel good Whale story;OT
- From: Lou@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 14:22:51 GMT
> Daring rescue of whale off Farallones
> A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near
> the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what
> marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter.
> "It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and
> that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said
> Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a
> little bit and had some fun."
> Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West
> Coast to free an entangled humpback, said Shelbi Stoudt, stranding
> manager for the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County.
> The 45- to 50-foot female humpback, estimated to weigh 50 tons, was on
> the humpbacks' usual migratory route between the Northern California
> coast and Baja California when it became entangled in the nylon ropes
> that link crab pots.
> It was spotted by a crab fisherman at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the open
> water east of the Farallones, about 18 miles off the coast of San
> Mick Menigoz of Novato, who organizes whale watching and shark diving
> expeditions on his boat the New Superfish, got a call for help Sunday
> morning, alerted the Marine Mammal Center and gathered a team of
> By 2:30 p.m., the rescuers had reached the whale and evaluated the
> situation. Team members realized the only way to save the endangered
> leviathan was to dive into the water and cut the ropes.
> It was a very risky maneuver, Stoudt said, because the mere flip of a
> humpback's massive tail can kill a man.
> "I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all
> the lines wrapped around it," said Moskito, a 40-year-old Pleasanton
> resident who works with "Great White Adventures," a cage-diving outfit
> that contracts with Menigoz. "I really didn't think we were going to be
> able to save it."
> Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with
> weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped
> at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front
> flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth.
> The crab pot lines were cinched so tight, Moskito said, that the rope
> was digging into the animal's blubber and leaving visible cuts.
> At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale,
> the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward,
> forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow- hole out of the
> Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes
> with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water
> the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration.
> "When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there
> winking at me, watching me," Moskito said. "It was an epic moment of my
> When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in
> circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver,
> nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.
> "It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that's happy to see you,''
> Moskito said. "I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable
> Humpback whales are known for their complex vocalizations that sound
> like singing and for their acrobatic breaching, an apparently playful
> activity in which they lift almost their entire bodies out of the water
> and splash down.
> Before 1900, an estimated 15,000 humpbacks lived in the North Pacific,
> but the population was severely reduced by commercial whaling. In the
> 20th century, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000. An
> international ban on commercial whaling was instituted in 1964, but
> humpbacks are still endangered. Between 5,000 and 7,500 humpbacks are
> left in the world's oceans, and many of those survivors migrate through
> the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
> Whale experts say it's nice to think that the whale was thanking its
> rescuers, but nobody really knows what was on its mind.
> "You hate to anthropomorphize too much, but the whale was doing little
> dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with it," Menigoz said. "I
> don't know for sure what it was thinking, but it's something that I
> will always remember. It was just too cool."
> Humpback whales hold a special place in the hearts of Bay Area
> residents ever since one that came to be known as Humphrey journeyed up
> the Sacramento River in 1985. The wayward creature swam into a slough
> in Rio Vista, attracting 10,000 people a day as whale experts tried
> desperately to turn it around. Humphrey went back to sea after 25 days
> of near-pandemonium and worldwide media attention.
> In the fall of 1990, Humphrey turned up again inside the bay in shallow
> water near the Bayshore Freeway, finally beaching on mud flats near
> Double Rock, just off the Candlestick parking lot. He remained stuck
> for 25 hours, until volunteers, helped by a 41-foot Coast Guard boat,
> pulled him free and sent him back to the ocean. He has not been seen
> Humpbacks like Humphrey do seem to relate to people more than other
> whales, according to Stoudt.
> "You do hear reports of friendly humpbacks, whales approaching boaters,
> especially in Baja California," Stoudt said, "but, for the most part,
> they don't like to be interacted with."
Gee it would have been neat if someone shot video. Hopefully??
- OT;Feel good Whale story;OT
- From: Lo
- OT;Feel good Whale story;OT
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