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Archive for September, 2016

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“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

Dalai Lama

 At about 8:30 AM on Sunday, December 11, 2005, a crab fisherman working the open waters east of the Farallon Islands about 18 miles off the coast of San Francisco spotted a whale that had become entangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots.

The whale was a female humpback about 45 to 50 feet in length and weighing an estimated 50 tons, who had likely become snared while traversing the humpbacks’ usual migratory route between the Northern California coast and Baja California.

A rescue team was hastily assembled and by 2:30 PM, divers had evaluated the situation and determined that the imperiled whale was so badly entangled in the crab pot lines, the only way to save her was to dive beneath the surface and cut the nylon ropes ensnaring her.

As James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, reported: “I was the first diver in the water and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around her,” said Moskito. “I really didn’t think we were going to be able to save her.”

Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale’s mouth.

“The crab pot lines were cinched so tight,” Moskito said, “that the rope was digging into the animal’s blubber and leaving visible cuts.”

At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow-hole out of the water.

Four divers spent about an hour cutting the nylon ropes with a special curved knife, a risky undertaking since a single flip of the gargantuan mammal’s tail could easily have killed any of them. Eventually they freed the humpback, a feat that a representative of the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County described as the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback.

The divers told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter the whale seemingly thanked them for its deliverance once the rescue operation was complete. “When the whale realized she was free, she began swimming around in circles,” according to the rescuers. Moskito said she swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.

The diver who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eyes were following him the whole time and he will never be the same.

“It felt to me like she was thanking us, knowing she was free and we had helped her. She stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun. It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you,” Moskito said. “I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.”

Whale experts say it’s nice to think the whale was thanking its rescuers, but nobody really knows what was on its mind.

“You hate to anthropomorphize too much, but the whale was doing little dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with her,” Mick Menigoz said. “I don’t know for sure what she was thinking, but it’s something I will always remember. It was just too cool.”

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

Albert Schweitzer

May you and all those you love be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

Thank you to my good friend, Stephanie Hurtt for sharing this story

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