Saturday, 30 May 2009

Today my heart broke

- 'Keep her facing the waves... Careful, careful, her fin is stuck under... Nate, when last did she breathe?.. Watch out guys, she's turning..!!'
- 'This one seems so tired, I think she's gonna die...'

And so it went, desperate people in wetsuits holding onto lithe, agile, graceful bodies rendered helpless and vulnerable by gravity, sand washing into gentle eyes, blow-holes gasping for air through crashing waves.

Around 40 pilot whales beached themselves today. Peaceful Kommetjie beach about 20min from my house turned into a scene from a horror movie today as surfers, divers, volunteers, scientists... anybody with a heart really, turned up to try and convince our beautiful ocean friends to reconsider their choice and please please please swim back to sea. The first whale we got to we started calling Notchy for the big notch taken out of her dorsal fin. She lay gasping in shallow water, and after much deliberating it was decided that the best plan was to try swim four whales stranded quite close together out to sea at the same time, as it was a whole family pod that was stranded together, we hoped helping several back out to sea at the same time would help them to keep swimming. I have never done this before, my exquisite sea mammal experiences have until today been confined to healthy happy mammals telling me to love life. It broke my heart into a million pieces to have the tables turned, to be the one convincing these lovers of life to please please please swim back out.

We maneouvered Notchy out into deeper water and swam her through the ever growing swell. Waves thundered at us, one picked me up threw me over tumbling- human whale human whale I tried to keep her head pointing towards the ocean, 'please dearest don't turn back!!'
We stayed with her as long as we could, far out at sea, until she dived down and we lost track. And then,
further off we saw four whales together swimming away. We whooped with joy, tired arms legs lungs getting new energy.

Fighting the current and the large swell to get back to shore my heart froze as I saw a whale swim past me, fast, strong, powerful- right up the beach, only to land there, thrashing her flukes. 'Nooo!!" I scream, can't stop myself. A tired man not far from me meets my broken gaze, he shakes his head, 'soul destroying'. I nod. And run.

I think we managed to rescue around 20 whales, but as I write this, scientist are setting up to euthenase another 34 beautiful creatures, who just cannot seem to make it back, and keep coming back.
Dear god, let me never have to see this ever again.


  1. What was that about the starfish again? For those 20 pilots your effort made all the difference!
    Many people would just turn away but you did not. You faced death and ripped those 20 from his cold claws. I am very proud of you!!!

  2. good job :( sounds heart wrenching.

  3. Thank you for the words.
    Has taken me many days to get over this experience, not sure I will ever be. Had a great surf the other day, the ocean still a place of joy!!!

  4. UW submarine detection devices are known to disturb marine life and become becons of death.

    How many wales beach each year world wide?

    See you down at Nordic Deep!