On Sunday morning, December 11, 2005, a crab fisherman about eighteen miles off the coast of San Francisco spotted a female humpback whale that had gotten tangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots. The rescue team that was quickly assembled discovered that the whale was so entangled that the only way to save her was to dive beneath the surface and cut the nylon ropes that were ensnaring her. James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, reported:
I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it. I really didn’t think we were going to be able to save it.
Mokito said about twenty crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every sixty feet, were wrapped around the whale. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the whale’s tail, back and left front flipper; there was also a line in the whale’s mouth. The crab-pot lines were clinched so tightly that the rope was digging into the whale’s blubber and leaving visible cuts. The combined weight of at least a dozen ninety-pound crab traps were pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow-hole out of the water.
Four divers spent an hour cutting the nylon ropes, a risky undertaking since one flip of the whale’s tail could be lethal. Eventually, the last line was cut and the whale was free! Now comes the cool part! The divers told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter that when the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles. It swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one. Moskito told the reporter:
It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it. It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun. It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you. I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.
Mick Menigoz, who organized the rescue crew, said:
You hate to anthropomorphize too much, but the whale was doing little dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with it. I don’t know for sure what it was thinking, but it was something that I will always remember. It was just too cool.
Click here to read the full story in the December 14, 2005 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Finally, click on the audio player below to listen to a ten-minute Radiolab program featuring interviews with the actual participants in this amazing rescue!
SAVE THE WHALE, TAKE TWO: On Valentine’s Day in 2011, Michael Fischbach, cofounder of The Great Whale Conservancy, led an impromptu rescue effort to free a young humpback whale that had also become entangled in a fishing net. The rescue took place in the Sea of Cortez, aka the Gulf of California, a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. Improbably, their ragtag efforts succeeded, resulting in the liberated whale doing a happy dance!
I love these stories, but they’re not uncommon. Click here to read a similar story about a grateful pelican who also thanked its rescuers.
We will never know what goes on inside an animal’s heart and mind, but it’s stories like these that illuminate the majesty and wonder of all God’s creatures!
Radiolab is a radio program broadcast on public radio stations. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, each hour-long show focuses on a topic of a scientific and philosophical nature, through stories, interview, and thought experiements.
To subscribe to Radiolab podcasts for free, click here to jump to the Radiolab website, then click on “Subscribe iTunes” just to the right of the RADIOLAB logo.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.