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Friday, February 03, 2006

attack of the gray whale

I just got back from vacationing in Maui, which explains my extended absence from the blog. I hope to get back to regular posting soon. I saw a lot of humpback whales, both from shore and ship. Here's a fascinating story about a gray whale that attacked a boat off the Santa Barbara coast.
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A gray whale smashed into a 27-foot boat on an evening cruise, damaging the vessel and injuring one person, the boat's owner said.

The Bayliner was cruising off Leadbetter Beach shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday when the whale came up from under its right bow, belly-flopped onto the boat and crushed its cabin, said boat owner Jerry Gormley.

"It pushed the boat down kind of sideways, then it came down on top," said Gormley, 55, who had taken his friends Bob and Vicki Thornburgh onto the water to watch the sunset.

The whale emerged from the water again and ran it's tail along the boat's flank, knocking over Bob Thornburgh, 50, and tearing down the vessel's railing, Gormley said.

The whale approached the boat a third time, settled beside it, and stared at Gormley, he said.

"You can look into most animals' eyes and see nothing," said Gormley, who estimated the whale was 30 feet long. "But not this one."

Gormley said his steering equipment and radar apparatus were destroyed, so he radioed for help. Larry Nufer, the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol officer who responded, said he found a badly damaged vessel.

"The cabin top had broken totally off, and was floating away to the side," said Nufer. "There was whale skin and blubber embedded in the sides."

Bob Thornburgh was treated for cracked ribs at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, said his wife, Vicki, 45. She said it seemed like the whale had consciously collided with the boat.

"It wasn't like the whale didn't know we were there," she said.
But of course, humans are always evil and whales can do no wrong in the eyes of today's environmentalists, and researcher Wayne Perryman will have none of this talk about consciously colliding with the boat:
However, Wayne Perryman, a researcher with the National Marine Fisheries Service in San Diego, said that was unlikely.

He said the boaters probably encountered a gray whale, which are common off California this time of year, and rarely show aggressive behavior. The whale may have picked a spot to breach where the boat coincidentally happened to be, he said.

Gray whales are also known to approach boaters out of curiosity, which researchers call "friendly behavior," Perryman said.

"So when you're a great big animal, sometimes being 'friendly' can be damaging to something a lot smaller," he said.
Gimme a break. This whale attacked the boat TWICE, man, and then approached it again to stare down the passengers! Maybe most gray whales are friendly, but can't there be some meanies out there? And what's this nonsense that the whale "may have picked a spot to breach where the boat coincidentally happened to be"? Yeah, right, a whale is going to pick a spot to breach and have no freakin' idea that a large boat just happens to be in the same spot - Mr. Perryman must think whales are pretty damn stupid.

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