Two humpback whales, nicknamed Delta and Dawn, that traveled 90 miles inland before scientists got them turned around at the Port of Sacramento on Sunday are having a difficult time making it back to the ocean.
Despite a flotilla of U.S. Coast Guard and National Marine Fisheries boats, doing everything from posting whale sounds in front of the two, to banging metal pipes behind them, they have only coaxed Delta and Dawn 20 miles back towards the sea.
As of today, the two whales are swimming in circles, still in the Sacramento River, as the world waits on their fate and I wonder: what if one of us, one of our own kind, swam 90 miles in the wrong direction of life? What if we saw a neighbor or a friend “swimming in circles” or going “90 miles” away from where he should be?
What would we do?
Would we wonder if “the vibrations from traffic” are making one of us wayward humans stall? Maybe it’s the 405 Freeway evening traffic that has us flustered. It’s the reason we hit the bar and not go straight home to family.
Scientists theorize that Delta and Dawn are apparently upset by vibrations from the traffic of an overhead bridge. That’s why they are swimming in circles.
“They’re wild animals and they’re going to do what they want,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Brian Leshak said late Monday as officials decided what to do next.
“We’re working on a plan to actually herd the whales,” he said.
Would a group of our friends herd us if we were to stray?
Back to us humans after more about the whales as reported by the Associated Press…and countless other media.
The U.S. Coast Guard tried positioning more than a dozen boats in front of them to turn them around, but the whales appeared unfazed. Banging metal pipes in the water to create vibrations didn’t work, either.
Scientists have been watching the two closely because their route includes sloughs leading to muddy deltas that could trap the whales, both already apparently wounded by a boat’s propeller. The pair also face a couple more highway bridges between Rio Vista and San Francisco Bay.
Federal officials have authorized researchers to fire darts carrying a satellite tracking device beneath the mother’s fin to ensure authorities can still locate the whales if they wander from the river into the delta’s maze of tributaries.
“They’re at this point lost,” Rod McInnis of the National Marine Fisheries Service. “We don’t think they have any clue.”
Should we be tracking someone in our own lives? I don’t mean stalking. Just keeping an eye out for them. Maybe even letting them know that someone cares. That someone cares more for their wellbeing than an army of people trying to get two whales back to the ocean.
There are a lot of “wayward whales” out there. A lot of us out of our element and in a place we should not be. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone banged metal pipes to alert us from danger? Or coaxed us in the right direction with a gentle voice?
The bible gives us a good illustration as to the value of, not a wayward whale, but a lost sheep.
If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.
In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! – Luke 15:4-7
Watching the fate of these two wayward whales unfold before us is an interesting part-time pastime. I think reaching out to someone clearly off track might prove to me more fruitful. It might not take an entire team of scientists to get them on track either.
Maybe a helping hand is all they needed.