Stranded Whale

From: mwilliamson (mwilliamson@wheelock.edu)
Date: Mon Oct 07 2002 - 13:46:37 EDT

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    Jimmy,

    Well...that would be a dead humpback whale...and I have a good excuse for
    why I was standing on it. That whale was one of a large number of whales
    that died in Cape Cod during the winter of 1988. We found out that it was
    probably because they had been eating fish that had become toxic due to a
    bloom of toxic algae (sort of a case of whale food poisoning). But we did
    not know this at the time that picture was taken and we were examining each
    whale to see if we could figure out what had killed it. What you can not
    see in the picture are some other people (just out of the picture) that are
    taking measurements with a long measuring tape. I was taking notes on a
    clipboard when the picture was taken. Why was I up on top of the whale?
     It is important to try to get a good look at the whole whale. This is
    hard to do when you are standing next to it (because they are so large).
     On a beach, there is no place to look down on the whale and the highest
    place is...well.. on the whale...

    That is also a sort of "Don't try this at home..." sort of picture (just in
    case you happen to bump in to a dead whale on your way to the beach some
    day). There are two reasons...first it is against the law to climb a dead
    whale unless you have permission from the government (dead whales are
    protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, just like live ones). I had
    permission to climb that whale. Also, another thing that you can't see is
    that I am wearing special boots that keep me from slipping. Yes, dead
    whales can be slippery and if you slip off it can be a long way to the
    ground. And believe me, it is pretty embarrassing when you have to explain
    at the hospital that you hurt yourself falling off of a dead whale....

    Thanks for the question,
    ge

    Sent: Monday, September 30, 2002 9:12 PM
    To: gearly@downeast.net; pita@whale.wheelock.edu
    Subject: what is that?

    DearGreg,
        What is that thing youre standing on? Please write me back.
                                    from,Jimmy Vaughan

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                          J. Michael Williamson
    Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu>
                       Associate Professor-Science
      Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
                        voice: 617.879.2256
               fax:    617.734.8666, or 978.468.0073
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                            Jimmy Buffett
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