Thursday, October 01, 2009

Grey Whale Stranding Response

Orignal posting:
April 30, 2009

Well I made it out there yesterday around 2 pm. What a sight. It was a juvinielle male gray whale estimated at 2 years old and somewhere around 10,000 pounds!

Carley was out working as the coordinator on this stranding and she was able to contact the Andrew Foss of Foss ships and recruited them to pull the carcass off of the beach for us and coordinated with the county to bring out a crew and a small boat to run line to and from the Andrew Foss.

Thanks Rhonnie! She loaned me her cell phone to take out to the site as mine was dead and my charger is in the car in Goldbar! Good thing too, as this phone became our only contact phone at the site.

The crew from the Andrew Foss came ashore and evaluated the situation and said they would be happy to help, provided we had a strong enough line for towing. We did not and so one of the crew suggested we contact Samson Rope in Ferndale for a donation to the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

I got on the phone with Charolette at Sampson and she worked so hard to find us some suitable line in the 2000 feet that we were looking for. She and the warehouse manager worked in tandem on this for over an hour and many phone calls from me but unfortunately couldn't find anything in that length and strength.

I made a new request for any 2 lines that we could splice and they went through the whole process again and came up with a wonderful donation. Then they even let us come after hours for pick up!!! Thanks to Joe in shipping and the warehouse manager (sorry, but don't remember his name)!

One of our volunteers , Bill, went into to pick up the line and when he returned we tied up the gray. I even got to make cut through the body to form a notch for the tow line to be attached.

If you would have told me yesterday morning that by evening I'd be cutting through the blubber of a whale I'd have thought you were crazy! But sure enough that was what I did. It was interesting and very cool!. The whale blubber is very greasy and thick!

Once the line was secure, we cleared the beach of onlookers for their safety. We had them move back where they could still see, but wouldn't be in harms way if something went wrong.

The county crew ran a line out to the Andrew Foss and then the tug pulled the carcass off the beach. Thank goodness it stayed in one peace and floated! They transported it down the beach to our tie off location and 5 of us volunteers walked down the beach and met them. Then the county brought in the line and we secured the carcass to the beach keeping the body below the low tide line. Where it will wait for a crew from the Friday Harbor Whale Museum to pick it up and bring it to their location. What they are doing with it I am not sure.

Once we had it secure we walked back the 1/2 mile of beach to our cars and made it after sunset, but before total darkness.

Now you can see what a coordinated effort this can be and that was just day 3! So many volunteers were needed for each phase of this.

The Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network is such a fantastic organization. Anything we can do to support them makes such a difference! If you want to get involved as a volunteer or want to help support them financially, the website is

Remember if you see a stranded marine mammal whether dead or alive, you must by law stay back 100 feet. Then please contact the local marine mammal stranding network. They will come and evaluate the animal, dead or alive and they gather data that is used by scientists and researchers world wide.

I'm so happy to be a small part of this organization and consider myself really blessed to be able to help make a difference in the world.

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