Animal stories/Rockport Harbor II

While Andre the Seal held the title of most-written-about animal in Rockport Harbor, there were other animal stories that occasionally originated in that seacoast town. This story was about a baby sperm whale that floated into the harbor, and the efforts to keep it alive. I don’t recall the outcome of this story, whether the baby whale lived or died.

By ARTHUR FREDERICK

ROCKPORT, Maine (UPI) – They built a sling out of beams and fish nets, and gently eased the newborn sperm whale over it in the shallow water near the shore at Rockport Harbor.

Straps that usually hoist boats from the water were drawn up and the baby whale, weak from hunger and close to death, was moved onto a dock and into the back of a large red and white van for the ride down the turnpike to Boston.

The little whale had floated into the harbor early Monday. At first it swam in lazy circles. Then it floated up and rested on the sand near shore.

People waded out and tried to push the whale back into deep water, but it kept turning about and moving back near the shore. Hundreds of people lined the beach and watched the whale as it lay in the shallow water.

Biology students from the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor came to Rockport and helped experts from the New England Aquarium in Boston check over the whale. At first it was thought eh animal was about a year old, but Dr. Joseph Geraci, a veterinarian at the New England Aquarium, and aquarium director John Prescott said the whale was a baby which had been separated from or rejected by its mother,,

They said the baby whale hadn’t been fed in some time. They said it was dehydrated and had lost as much as a third of its weight, which at birth is about 3,000 pounds.

A private plane was sent aloft to search the coast for the mother. If she had been found, the baby would have been towed out to meet her. But she wasn’t found, and Prescott and Dr. Geraci began making plans to move the whale to the New York Aquarium.

The examination early Tuesday, however, indicated the whale wouldn’t survive the trip. It was decided to take it to the aquarium in Boston.

Harry Goodridge, the local harbormaster, had been with the whale since it first came into the harbor.

“They gave him massive doses of antibiotics,” Goodridge said. “There is a lot of interest in him because he’s the first live sperm whale anyone’s ever had.”

Louis Garibaldi, the New England Aquarium’s curator, cautioned that chances of saving the little whale were slim.

“The animal is in very poor condition,” he said. “It is a recent newborn, it’s very thin and it’s had little nutrition.”

“The prognosis is poor, and it appears the whale may die no matter what we do.”

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