Dr. Vicky to the Rescue

October 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm (News, Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dr. Vicky Thayer, marine biologist from CMAST, dropped in to give us a lesson on whale rescue.  The students partnered to brainstorm five items needed in order to save a whale tangled in fishing line.  After some time, the kids shared their thinking.  They came up with ideas such as medical tools and medicine to keep the whale calm.  Others thought a crane would be helpful to keep it above water.  Goggles were mentioned to keep the salt water that might be flying about out of their eyes, while also wearing a helmet in case the fluke (tail) came crashing down on them.  An elephant was brought up, the idea was to keep water sprayed onto the whale for comfort.  A knife or scissors would be needed to cut the line.

After the meeting of the minds, Dr. Vicky went into depth of how the course of action takes place.  But before doing so, she shared a large piece of baleen for the children to see and hold.  As you can see from the pictures, the baleen was taller than she was and to my surprise, quite hard.  I had always thought of it as more hair and soft tissue, but it felt more like thin bone or plastic (yes with hair attached).  Any-who, Dr. Vicky explained as she brought out her equipment that responders begin by tiring the whale out.  To slow the whale down they hook weight bobbers and a type of catch bag to pull water current.  They also insert a tracking device into the weight, because they are not guaranteed to keep up with the mighty beasts as they take off.  Once a whale slows down, the crew connect poles together.  Each pole is around one yard or so in length, and she had close to twenty one feet connected.  Then a retractable blade is attached to the end of the pole, which is meant to slide under the rope and flicks open when pulling back to cut the twine. Yes the have helmets and the cutting takes place at the back-side of the whale to keep out of the flukes wrath.

She mentioned that sometimes when an animal becomes free or has the sense of being freed, that is when responders are in danger.  The reason being the whale will take off before the job is completed, or once the line is cut, it could cause a tighter grip due to a leverage shift.  They whale could at any time dive straight down, taking the crew with them.  Man what an exciting job.  We ended the discussion with things we could do to help.  Of course, it all came back to picking up litter, as it tends to make it’s way to water.  Ever Google trash island?

I thought this would be beneficial since we’ve covered animals so indepth, as well as how humans leave their mark on Mother Earth.  More so, I wanted to expose them to not only a truly passionate and knowledgeable human being in Dr. Vicky, but also to a career path that is within their grasp right here in our community.  Whatever the cause, it was a big hit with the Little V’s.  Stay tuned for more to come.



  1. Anonymous said,

    This is wonderful!

  2. tnaznav said,

    It is good to have connections.

  3. Anonymous said,

    awesome!! always good to hear about quality people doing quality work

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