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Right Whale Enters Indian Lagoon

This story comes to us from the FWC, who, along with arresting people and protecting us and our environment, produce a valuable weekly. This story came to our attention this week. It’s about a whale named Clipper and her 10-foot calf who entered the Indian River lagoon where our dear friend Rodney Smith of Coastal Conservation lives.

right whale lagoonThe right whale is called the right whale because they’re the right whale to kill compared to the dangerous Sperm whales. This right whale recently entered the Indian River lagoon, an unusual event.

Not only does the FWC work tirelessly to protect our state, they do it with what we know is a pretty limited staff. Every single person we’ve ever met who works for them–from people with the organization for under six weeks to the lifelong career workers like the Executive Director–wears as many hats as needed during the course of their day to get the job done.

This comes from the FWC’s Weekly Arrest Report:

Clipper the Whale Enters Indian Lagoon

Recently, a 45-foot right whale named Clipper and her 10-foot calf were seen entering the Indian River Lagoon through Sebastian Inlet. Realizing that this was an unusual event, Sebastian Inlet State Park staff notified FWC, sparking a multi-agency response that spanned almost two full days. The agencies involved were FWC (Law Enforcement and Florida Wildlife Research Institute Right Whale biologists), NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute. The multi-agency effort was focused on enforcing the mandated 500-yard safety zone around the whales, as well as attempting to provide an environment with minimal acoustic noise pollution as possible. This allowed the whales the freedom to solve their dilemma on their own and they eventually moved back out of the Sebastian Inlet and were last seen moving north along the Atlantic Coast. Thanks to the rapid response and excellent teamwork of both law enforcement and biologists, the event ended on a positive note. FWC members involved were biologists Tom Reinert, Tom Pitchford, Mary Applegate, right whale observation aircraft and crew, Lieutenants Zamonis and Lightsey, and officers Horst, Matthews, Cybula, D. Humphrey, J. Humphrey, Hadwin and Salberg.

Right Whales, the Oil Industry, and Lighting the Way

You might wonder how right whales got their unusual name. It’s not because they lay on their left or right sides in the water. It’s because they were the right whales to kill.

That’s right. The first recorded incident of true overfishing came from the cold northern oceans where they were first whaled. The men hunting them knew that their docile nature would make them (relatively) safe to hit with a harpoon, and they could be harvested easily because they didn’t sink when you killed them.

Fifty years later, they had all but been wiped out, and the commercial whaler had moved up to the much more dangerous sperm whale of Moby Dick fame. These ruthless mammals would kill whalers when they could and sink to the bottom when shot, so harvesting them resulted in many drownings, as whalers were being ripped into the water while tied to a harpoon line connected to a three ton mammoth. Eventually, harpoons with explosive tips were invented to kill them while inflating large balloons in the creature to float it to the surface.

For those of you who feel the oil industry did more damage to the world than the lights and plastics resulting from their harvest, the whale populations of the world probably wouldn’t agree. Had it not been for the advent of kerosene, we might’ve been reading and writing by the light of whale blubber lamps for many more years.



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