Tales and Yarns

A Whale of a Tale

Author:  Alleycat

A Whale of a Tale


It was late summer or early fall, whatever, it was September. I was on my way to Clarenville to deliver my weekly reports when my boss’s voice came on the 2-way, he asked me to proceed to Brooklyn, Bonavista Bay. He told me that a Blue Whale had beached itself and needed our help. He said he had already called Dr. Jon Lien of Memorial University, and Jon was on his way. When I arrived at Brooklyn there was no way to miss the location of the beached whale, there were about a hundred people standing around looking. The Whale was a Blue alright, also known as a Sulphur Belly, because of its yellow shade of white on its underbelly. The Whale was about 60 feet long, which estimates to be about 60 tons. It had pushed itself into a small cove and was head towards shore. Now I don’t know enough about Whales to know if they can swim in reverse, but in the confined space of that little cove, I’m pretty sure it was virtually impossible.

Jon Lien arrived and we began working to free “Old Blue” as we affectionately named it, or him, our expert Dr. Lien told us it was male. Jon said our best bet was to turn blue around so he could swim to safety, so enlisting the help of local fishermen with their boats, we began to try lassoing the whales head to turn it around. Those of you who have had experience with whales or swam with dolphins can tell the rest just how smooth a whale’s skin is. We tried using regular nylon rope, it wouldn’t sink to get it underneath his lower jaw, then we used leaded or weighted rope, but even that would slip off as soon as we got it on. These attempts weren’t without risk, if the whale happened to panic, it could easily wreck or overturn the small boats we were using, however it seemed he knew we were trying to help him. You may ask, how did the whale get himself into this predicament in the first place? Personally I don’t know, however Dr. Lien says sometimes they get disoriented while swimming at night, using sonar, the clicks and beeps they send off, bounce back from rocks, debris, and of course the land. If they get into a place where the shoreline is on both sides they have problems deciphering which shore is which shore, so they swim on blindly probably hoping to get back into clear water again, whatever the case this one was stuck with shoreline about 20 to 25 feet away in front and on both sides.


Obviously our wonderful plan wasn’t going to work, so we had a meeting on shore to brainstorm. An old fisherman was standing by just listening, after a while hearing many stupid or lame suggestions, he spoke up, he said he realized that we were the experts, but if it was his problem, he would tie a rope around the Whale’s Tale and pull it backwards out of the cove.

The powers to be decided we had nothing to lose so we gave it a try. We tied a rope loosely around old blue’s tale, and then hooked 5 outboard motor boats to the tow rope and started to pull. At first the whale didn’t like it and began to fight us, but soon it understood and settled down. We pulled it out into deep water and turned it around so it was heading towards the open ocean. Four of the boats slipped the tow ropes off, but the last boat couldn’t detach itself from the whale. Old Blue, realizing he was free of his dilemma, started to swim towards his home, the great North Atlantic. The boat that was still attached simply went along for the ride, however the whale was picking up speed and was swimming deeper, and started to pull the boat underwater. One of the men in the boat cut the rope, the force of the recoil, sent the boat completely out of the water, after traveling about 15 or 20 feet it crashed back into the water and almost capsized.

The last we heard of the Blue Whale was from a fisherman inbound from checking his cod trap, he said he passed him about 5 miles further out, heading for open sea at full throttle.

Mission Accomplished.

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