ANALYSIS OF PHOTOGRAPH OF SHORT-FIN
By Peter Davenport
HOMEWARD BOUND: A young short-finned
pilot whale is shoved into the Atlantic off Florida by workers from
the Miami Seaquarium aboard a U. S. Air Force helicopter. It and another
were the last of a group of whales stranded 13 months ago and returned
to the wild after undergoing physical therapy for curvature of the tail.
The whales were set free yesterday near a pod of pilot whales that scientists
hope will accept them.
SYNOPSIS: The photograph (AP photo) of a short-fin pilot whale being
dropped into the Atlantic Ocean from a U. S. Air Force UH-60 "Blackhawk"
helicopter were published by both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and
The Seattle Times on April 29, 1992. Although no articles accompanied
the photographs, the captions to the photos indicate that a pod of approximately
a dozen, or more, whales was found beached near Key West, Florida, sometime
during March 1991, and they were rescued, rather than being euthanized,
then moved to an aquarium in Miami, where they were rehabilitated over
the course of the subsequent 13 months. A peculiar characteristic seen
in this particular group of whales was that their caudal peduncles,
i.e. tails, were displaced laterally, i.e. "bent" to the side,
to a severe degree, (a condition called "scoliosis"), perhaps
90 degrees from the longitudinal axis. The animals received therapy
to straighten their tails, after which they were released to the wild
by being flown approximately 150 miles east of Florida in military helicopters
and dropped in the ocean. Two whales were released during each flight,
and each flight involved at least three helicopters, two UH-60 "Blackhawk"
military helicopters, as well as a U. S. Coast Guard helicopter, which
is known to have accompanied them during their flights off the coast
HEADING FOR FREEDOM: Workers
from the Miami Seaquarium release a juvenile short-finned pilot whale
about 150 miles east of Miami yesterday. It was found stranded on Key
West in March 1991.
1. Why were the whales, which apparently showed signs of gross malformation
of their tails, rescued in this case, rather than be euthanized, which
traditionally is the case with large cetaceans that have beached?
2. Who, or what entity, possessed the resources necessary to quickly
rescue the animals from a remote beach near Key West, Florida, and move
them to a large facility in Miami on short notice? The animals weigh
approximately 2-3 thousand pounds, and they must be moved very delicately
when they are out of water, in order to avoid injuring their internal
organs. Generally, special equipment is required just to move a cetacean
even the short distance from the beach back into the surf.
3. How was a large facility secured on short notice to house the animals
for 13 months? It seems logical to assume that someone may have been
anticipating their arrival, and may have pre-arranged their lodging!
But if that is the case, how did they know that there would be a beaching,
which would give rise to a rescue?
4. Who provided the budget to feed, house, medicate, and rehabilitate
a dozen or more large mammals for 13 months? Cetaceans of this size
consume approximately 20-50 kilograms of fish per day, which costs approximately
1-2 dollars per kilogram, translating to a food bill of at least a thousand
dollars per day for 13 months!!
5. Who paid the salaries and expenses of veterinarians, handlers, and
staff for the required period of more than a year, and why?
6. What was the nature of the injury to the animals' "tails?"
What causes the caudal peduncle of a large cetacean to be displaced
laterally as severely as 90 degrees, and how is such a condition or
injury treated? Were x-rays taken of the tails, and if so, where are
they? What did they show?
7. Why was nothing seen in the national news about this story during
the animals' rehabilitation, and/or prior to the release of the animals
at sea? Given humans' interest in cetaceans, it would have been a logical
"whale interest" story for the national news, but it was not
covered at all, apparently.
8. Why were the whales flown some 150 miles (!!) out to sea to release
them, rather than simply allowing them to swim out of their place of
captivity?? After their rehabilitation, they should have been able to
swim quite adequately, and a group of 12 or more pilot whales should
constitute a "pod" Hence, it should not be necessary to find
a second pod for them to join. After all, presumably the group constituted
a pod when they first beached themselves near Key West.
9. How was military equipment secured for this operation, and what military
budget was used to pay for approximately 40-50 flight hours by three
helicopters? The cost of operating of a heavy military helicopter is
measured in thousands of dollars in direct expenses per flight hour.
Therefore, the "taxi fare" to deliver at least a dozen animals
150 miles offshore must have been measured in tens, or hundreds, of
thousands of dollars!! Would it not have been substantially cheaper
to use a ship to transport the whales out to sea?
10. Who made the decision to allow three helicopters, at least two of
which were non-amphibious, to fly approximately 150 miles out to sea,
placing the craft over open water for a 2-hour flight? The price of
the operation goes up substantially if a helicopter has a mechanical
problem, and is lost at sea. A "Blackhawk" helicopter costs
the American taxpayers in excess of $10 million; crewmembers carry a
certain monetary value, as well?
11. Why were the whales released, at all? Is there some magnanimous
donor who so adores cetaceans so much that he, or she, provided approximately
a million dollars, or more, simply to rehabilitate them and return them
to nature? How would such a person be able to secure participation and
assistance by the military?
Peter B. Davenport, Director
National UFO Reporting Center
P. O. Box 45623
Seattle, WA 98145
Dated: February 05, 1998
NOTE: This document is not copyrighted material and may be copied and
distributed freely. Acknowledgement of the National UFO Reporting Center
in Seattle, WA, as the source of this document would be appreciated.