Lasooing a whale

Attempted whale rescue

Tug for survival

Tug for life
Photo credits Charlie Nye and Lori Borgman

“In the late evening hours of a June night 41 sperm whales swam ashore near Florence, Oregon. I arrived on sight within a few hours with a crew of 14 people and an array of ropes and equipment. The tide was on the decline as the 40 foot long whales came ashore, apparently followed the female leader. Several were wallowing far enough out to sea from the shallow sandy shoreline, so as it might have been possible to maneuver them into deeper water and let them swim free.

I lassoed a whales’ flukes with a large rope. In the process a wave struck me, pushing me under the one-ton flukes, which were thrashing and came crashing down, narrowly missing me. A police officer, standing on the beach, called me ashore, getting my name and information in case I should be injured or killed. After a successful attempt to rope a whales’ fluke, I organized a line of 15 people to try to maneuver the whale into deeper water. The large mammal moved some distance out to sea, but with its strength it pulled the human chain like a whip.

In the end the outgoing tide defeated the process, with 41 sperm whales dying on the hard sand beach – each crushed by their own body weight.”

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