Agencies use new whale recordings in rescue effort
Photo courtesy Greenpeace.org
By Ananda Shorey
May 18, 2007
Efforts to lure two wounded humpback whales stranded near Sacramento
back to the Pacific Ocean are continuing today with rescuers using
new whale recordings to try and draw the large mammals to sea.
Officials were using sounds Thursday from an Alaskan population
of whales, which they originally thought the pair belonged to,
but they have switched to acoustics from a California-Mexico population,
said Carrie Wilson, a California Department of Fish and Game marine
Rescue agencies are altering the frequencies, distances and directions
of the recordings to see if efforts that began earlier this week
prove more successful today.
"We are going to try different combinations today and hopefully
we will have some success," Wilson said.
The mother and calf that appear to have been wounded by boat
propellers were first sighted Sunday.
Although they traveled a bit today, the whales are still in the
Port of Sacramento.
"This morning we found the pair ventured into the deep water
channel, which is going in the direction we want them to go,"
The whales later returned to the basin.
Agencies involved in the rescue might take Saturday off, depending
on how things go today, to regroup and let the whales rest, Wilson
If needed, next week the plan is to return with more boats, including
a 58-footer from Berkeley. Rescuers also plan to change their
strategy and start herding, which would involve following the
whales with boats and transmitting negative noises, Wilson said.
But scientists are also concerned about stressing the pair, Wilson
"We're not sure any of this is going to work. We are hopeful.
We are doing the best we can," Wilson said.
The latest reports indicate the whales appear healthy despite
having lacerations that likely resulted from contact with boat
The pair has been swimming back and forth and periodically surfacing,
to the delight of onlookers.
Humpbacks are an endangered species that have been threatened
by commercial hunting, boat collisions and pollution. They have
flattened-knobby heads, wavy-edged flippers and can be the size
of school buses.
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