Saturday, February 18, 2006

What the Whale Did

In the wake of the Goleta post office shooting a few weeks ago, most other news stories Santa Barbara news stories had to struggle to get national attention. One noteworthy event did occur, however, just off the coast on February 2 — a gray whale kerslapped a boat with a finny malice I haven’t heard of since Monstro went after Gepetto and Pinocchio. It’s true. The story ran in the Associated Press and made it into papers all through California, though, more often and not in abbreviated form or some “news of the weird”-type column, as even whale attacks don’t compare to history’s worst office place shooting spree perpetrated by a woman.

The San Jose Mercury still has the story up. You can see it here. From what the article says, I envision the whole incident like some kind of marine bitchslap that ended with the whale merrily swimming away without a second thought. I think my favorite part of the write-up involves the victims describing the whale as indisputably and deliberately vicious.
“You can look into most animals’ eyes and see nothing,” said Gormley, who estimated the whale was 30 feet long. “But not this one.”
“It wasn't like the whale didn't know we were there,” she said.
I wish they had conjectured that the whale was just having a bad day or maybe that he was one of those dumbly destructive lugs like Lenny from Of Mice and Men. Whatever the reason, the people involved come off like dipshits. Yeah, the whale wrecked your boat, but you don't hear about people sticking their hand in a bee hive and then saying "Wow, those bees really had it out for me for no reason. What psychos." The whale was most likely just doing what whales do — being massive and powerful and kings of the sea and all that. If you don't like it, move to Colorado.

In any case, news of whale carnage made the local news in Hollister shortly before my parents came down to Santa Barbara two weekend ago. Now, I’ve been here a while and there’s really nothing too exciting left for them to discover here, so they were especially amped on going to see exactly what becomes of a boat that motors on the wrong side of an angry whale. So we agreed that we should go to the marina and see if the boat was still docked there.

I understand this isn’t the typical family outing, but my family isn’t all that typical. Honestly, I initially just was happy to have an activity that everybody agreed would be interesting. So just think about how stoked I was when the nice sea marshal explained that the boat remains were, in fact, available to be gawked at and that my father, my mother and I could be those very gawkers if we could get passed a gate that keeps nobodies out from the part of the harbor where the nicer boats reside.

The short version of the story is that we made our way past the gate like we owned the place and found the wrecked boat in short order. I took pictures, of course. And here, for your viewing pleasure is the result of the collision between a hapless sea vessel and a careless whale.

Hi Mom. Hi Dad. Hi wrecked boat, which upon closer inspection isn't all that wrecked. The canopy is definitely smashed, but considering that this tiny tugger met a whale, I'd say it looks pretty damn good.

Then again, there is some evidence to suggest that the experience wasn't a total cake walk for the passengers. As you can see, they haven't touched the boat since the incident, not even to clean up the blood, which I imagine came from the people when all the wrecking and shattering and snapping happened.

The inside suffered considerable damage as well. This seat snapped like a carrot stick. Or at least that's how I'll picture it in my head. This is all a little scarier when you think about how these seats are likely where the passengers were seated when the whale said hello.

Again, you can tell the scene hadn't been altered at all, since the glass was still in shards and falling everywhere. I'd think broken glass in the water would violate some kind of marina ordinance, but maybe the officials felt the boat owners had been through enough.

This one disturbs me most. It's hard to believe that something so thin-looking as a whale tail could do this. Their tails are large, I'll admit, but not necessarily the most imposing part of the whale. I've been on boats enough to know that that fiberglass is study stuff, but this tear proves that it could stand to be sturdier. Just a little scary, but scary nonetheless.

Pretty magical ice crystals! That, or the sharp remains of someone wealthy local's pleasure craft. Either way, I like this picture immensely. It or some Photoshopped version of it may soon show up as a new blog template background.

So that's the story of the whale. I'm glad I finally got around to typing this up before it became too old to be relevant anymore. But when is anything not relevant enough to be mentioned on this blog?

Along those lines, please also note this picture of a golden retriever that was leashed to a fence outside Brophy Brothers'. He had to sit a watch a family of four enjoy deep friend sea critters and consequently was surrounded in a puddle of his own drool.

You've seen it. Now you can't un-see it.

1 comment:

  1. you totally didnt mention the best part of the article, wherein one of the gentleman passengers describes the surgery that he needed to remove the BARNACLE FRAGMENTS from his back.