I was heading into work one morning last week when I got a call about a beached whale. I flipped a fantastic U-y (I don’t want to brag but I am awesome and well skilled at U-Turns) and rushed north with thoughts of the awesome photos I was going to get as people saved the whale and it swam off to live its happy whale life.
While the whale was alive when it first washed ashore, it died shortly after, so the photos of biologists with tears in their eyes as it swam away with a wave of his tail, did not materialize.
Fact: when a “very skinny” juvenile gray whale washes ashore on your beach, Fish and Wildlife officers will tell you to poke it in the eye to determine if it is alive or dead. That’s right, the beach owner had to poke the poor whale in the eye. I like that with all these advances in technology, that the old “poke it in the eye” method of determining if things are alive or dead is still the way to go.
I admit I was tempted to give the poor thing a hug but it was covered with whale lice and let me tell you those things are huge, and you can hear them and if they are strong enough to attach themselves to whale skin well I’m assuming if they grabbed onto human skin it would hurt like a son-of-a-gun.
Because the tide was coming in, biologists had to wait until the next day to perform a necropsy (thankfully it was a cool cloudy few days or my goodness that smell would have been horrendous). Apparently biologists rarely get to do this kind of work on such a fresh body so while the whale died he will live on in their research. Part of his chin was even being sent to the Smithsonian.
Here’s hoping the next one I see is alive and swimming happily.