Showing posts with label Puget Sound. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puget Sound. Show all posts

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Puget Sound Tugboat Yarn – Vancouver to Ballard

By Jack Brummet, Seattle History Editor

[from the Library of Congress Washington State folk life archives]

"I was skipper of a tugboat towin' a boom of logs from Vancouver Island to Ballard in 1911. Most of the way down we had one of them frozen fogs, and it kept gettin' colder all the time. The seagulls had slim pickin's that time of year up the Sound, and they swarmed onto the log boom till you couldn't see the bark.

"One morning, about six hours from Ballard, one of the deck hands noticed that they were flapping their wings considerable without gettin' anywhere, and [?] we come to find out, be'jeeze their feet was frozen to the logs. When we got about opposite Meadow Point, somp'n went wrong with the engine. The Chief reported that it couldn't be fixed without goin' onto dry dock, and there we was, driftin' out there in the fog, with little chance of gettin' any help for twelve hours or so, and a darn good chance of fouling on the point and losin' the boom and our skins besides.

"It looked pretty tough until I got an idea. Then I says to the Steward:

“Charlie, how much sack coal we got left?”

"Charlie says: 'We got five sacks in the hole and one part sack in the galley.'

“That's fine, I think that will be enough to get us into port."

He looks at me an though I had somp'n wrong with my head, and goes off mutterin' to himself. Then I calls the two deck hands and tells them to get the sacks of coal out of the hole and carry them way aft. Then I order all hands an' the cook to stand aft and throw coal at the seagulls on the log boom. And bejeeze, them seagulls flew us and the boom into port."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poem: [The Streetlight’s Blue Shadows]

by Jack Brummet

The streetlight's blue shadow
Pools on the macadam of 24th Avenue NW

As stars coruscate through a nebulous fog.
I tilt my head to see The Big Dipper,

Polaris, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda.
The streetlight's falling shadow

Marks a twilight world I take for granted.
The bats' sonar

And the muffled bark of sea lions
Are the songs I hear

When I go outside to see the stars
Twinkling in the briny air.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kill The Whale!

By Pablo Fanque, All This Is That National Affairs Editor
and Jack Brummet, Editor-in-chief, All This Is That

Magnificent but deadly, is how a Florida newspaper described Orcas.  I live within walking distance of Puget Sound, where we have pods of Orcas.  I have seen them all my life out in the sound, sailed by them in ferries as whole pods breached and frolicked, and even watched on TV when they were captured (specifically Name and Shamu).  It's sad, but not shocking, to hear one they had cooped up in Florida has killed someone.  Tilikum an Orca at SeaWorld has now killed three people.  Our local Orcas don't have such an ugly track record.  But they are free to roam the sound and Pacific Ocean, and have social relationships among their pod. 

Tilikum is a star attraction for SeaWorld, and a stud--he's now father to 13 calves.  He is a large Orca, and has been a marquee fixture at SeaWorld--partly because his considerable girth lends itself to making gigantic splashes that awe the tourists.  But his male hormones, that delight the breeders at the park, and his size, that delights the paying visitors also make him dangerous to Dawn Brancheau, his handlers and trainers.  He killed Brancheau, dragging her by her ponytail and drowning her earlier this week.  This isn't completely surprising.  Tillikum is often separated from the seven other whales at SeaWorld, because he is very large.  And "randy." 

"Chuck Tompkins, corporate curator of animal behavior for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said the park's female killer whales typically only want Tilikum around them when they are sexually active." 
But Orcas are extremely social, and the isolation Tilikum experinced may have led to his aggressive behavior (sounds like prison behavior, doesn't it?).  SeaWorld knew this, and only put him in isolation for three days maximum.   Being alone is cruel punishment for a whale.

Dawn Brancheau was not his only victim.  This is a serial killer whale.  In 1991, he was one of three Orcas that drowned a trainer at an aquarium in our neighboring town, Victoria, British Columbia.  In 1999, authorities found a dead body on his back--authorities believe the man snuck into SeaWorld's orca tank and drowned.

Tilikum weighs six tons, twice the size of the next largest whale in captivity in Orlando.  SeaWorld allows no handlers in his tank, and only allow the most seasoned handlers to work with him at the edge of  "the tank."  Many experts say he is so large that any tank man can create is far too small for him.  They also say no tank is large enough for a whale.
"We've proved in the past few years that putting people in solitary confinement makes them crazy. How can we expect anything different from marine animals?" said Edward O. Keith, an associate professor at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center.

SeaWorld is assembling a panel of experts to decide how best to handle Tilikum in light of this most recent "accident."

Really?  I guess you don't even consider sterner measures when the perp is your tourist attraction's cash cow.  But if this were a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Malamute, or German Shepherd who just killed their third victim, what do you think their fate would be?  Well, let's face it, they would have never reached their third strike.  The "authorities" would have taken the dog out after their first srike.  And we've done the same dozens of times recently with rogue bears and cougars.  We do it with humans too.

So, what now?  If this was a human, we would never set him free.  If it was a dog, we would have killed him back in 1991.  We could slowly acclimatize him, and eventually set him free.  That's worked with birds, but with whales...we haven't had much luck.

Incredibly, SeaWorld wants to keep him around.   They have a deep pecuniary interest in keeping him performing.   What are a few dead handlers compared to a magnificent revenue-generating marquee whale?  Not much apparently.

Fly him back to Puget Sound and drop him near one of the local pods.  It's sink or swim out there, and he'll make it, or he won't.  But, SeaWorld,  your status quo?  It really isn't working.  It's time to implement the Free Willy option.  You've collected enough of your dollars, sheckels, and piastres.  It's time to free Tilikum and let him enjoy whatever remains of his life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Poem: The sounds on Puget Sound

[jack writing in from Austin, Texas. Yeah, it's not a Texas poem at all...]

The sounds on Puget Sound

The fog pushes up the hill
and the stars fade
into a milky film

smeared across the sky.
I hear the voices
of three distinct sea lions--

Momma, Poppa, Baby,
Or maybe three bachelor
sea lions frisking on the jetty

outside Golden Gardens.
The barks come steady now
and I wonder if they're cold,

but Baja is just a swim
down the coast
and it's not easy

to leave the salmon, shrimp,
crab, squid, sardines,
smelt, octopus, oysters,

anchovies, starfish, cod,
clams and geoducks behind.
Maybe it's the lunar eclipse

getting under their hides,
and the moon, melting away
yanks their bearings awry.

The foghorn on the buoy begins
its low moan in counterpoint
to the random sea lion arfs

and out along the sound
somewhere between Seattle
and Bainbridge Island

I hear the muffled putt putt putt
of a tugboat hauling a sand barge
into Elliott Bay

and I realize the sea lions
are just barking
to cover up the engines.