Do the Right
Photograph below provided by LAURIE
MURISON, Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station
The right whale that took the wrong turn drew notice around
the world, its adventures followed by CNN and other media.
In December 1994, an 11-month old right whale was sighted 128
kilometers up the Delaware River, off Philadelphia. He was quickly named
Shackleton, after Sir Earnest Shackleton, a turn-of-the-century Antarctic
explorer whose exploits were never really successful, but who did manage to
survive a 10-month series of misadventures while attempting to lead an
expedition on foot across Antarctica.
the explorer, Shackleton the right whale had his misadventures up the Delaware.
"He was obviously pushing the boundaries of right whale
habitat," says Hamilton. "He's a great hero to many of us." Shackleton spent
a week going up and down the mile-wide, pollution-filled river, dodging ship
traffic along the way. He got stuck under a floating dock alongside of a
tanker, then worked his way under the pier. He partially beached himself with
the tide going out, So tugboats sped by to create a wake that would help rock
the animal, and the fire department was at the ready to use high-powered hoses
to coax it out of the shoals. The whale eventually freed itself with thrusts of
its tail and people used boat hooks to direct the whale through the maze of
pilings beneath the pier.
Scientists used sounding
devices in the Water in an attempt to coax Shackleton down river. The played
recordings of killer whales and right whales. The marine patrol kept watch over
the whale by day, but at night the Whale was on its own against the ships.
There was no way to keep track of it in the darkness. "
One night, we got a call to a Coast Guard station from a tug
that had hit it," says Hamilton.
The captain's voice was
shaking as he Described the whale. "It was hard to tell, but it didn't sound as
if the whale was behaving abnormally after being hit. But it was night, and he
couldn't see it very well.
'That was the last that we
knew that it was sighted."