Info: Right Whale rescue procedure

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 13 Dec 1994 14:54:46

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From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Info: Right Whale rescue procedure
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Subj:	Errant Whale-12/10/94
Date:         Mon, 12 Dec 1994 03:29:00 UTC
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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Subject:      Errant Whale-12/10/94
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Errant Whale
 Associated Press Writer
   PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Scientists tracking a wayward right whale
set up underwater noisemakers Saturday to scare it back on course
if it makes another wrong turn. They've also got an old standby:
the net.
   The 30-ton mammal was in Delaware Bay at Ship John Shoal, about
50 miles south of Philadelphia and just 25 miles from the Atlantic
and a plentiful food supply of plankton.
   "Every inch closer it gets to the sea, the better off it is,"
said Charles Mayo, a marine biologist from the Center for Coastal
Studies in Provincetown, Mass.
   The young whale got lost a week ago during its winter migration
to Florida when it turned north at the bay and ended up on the
Philadelphia waterfront.
   Probably confused by the fresh water, the whale has repeatedly
changed its course, swimming as far north as Rancocas Creek in
Burlington County, N.J., and as far south as Wilmington, Del.
   Scientists put a tiny VHF radio tag on the whale's back Friday,
allowing them to track it from the air.
   They had used underwater speakers blasting the sound of killer
whales to steer the whale right. It didn't work.
   So they set up a 250-foot line of underwater speakers in the
Delaware River to emit high-pitched frequencies to scare the whale
back toward the Atlantic if it returns northward.
   "They create quite a messy sound underwater, especially for an
animal accustomed to acoustic guides," said Scott Kraus, a right
whale expert from the New England Aquarium in Boston. "This would
be our last line of defense before we consider a capture."
   That would involve a 60-foot long, 25-foot wide rectangular
nylon net constructed by a team of Navy SEALs and salvage divers
from Norfolk, Va. The 29-foot whale would be dragged by up to four
   Northern rights are the rarest of all the great whales. Once
considered a favorite of hunters for their valuable oil, they are
typically found off the coast of Cape Cod and Nova Scotia.