My husband Jim is writing a novel; it's a conspiracy/sci-fi/paranormal tinged book, and it's wonderful to have him read me the latest every week. It's tentatively titled Product A recent scene in his book has the main character remembering something that happened when he was a child. Staying at the beach with his mother, he is aware of a creature in need. A giant, whale/octopus/leviathan kind of creature, preternatural, that calls to him. The character goes to the creature, who is injured, meets a girl; through a series of telepathic Fortean type events, the creature manages to return back into the ocean. Part of the strangeness of this event was the character's repression of such a vivid, poignant, eerie encounter and his dealing with the recovered memory. Something about this passage was very moving; I could picture the creature, with its one, huge orb of an eye, on the wet sand. Jim wrote this at the same time I started this blog but he hadn't known about the blog or its title. (I was reminded of the movie Whale Rider and how moved I was watching the scene where the whale washes up on the beach.)
Sunday, a fin whale beached itself here on the Oregon coast at Devil’s Elbow State Park. The smell from the whale made its way up and over Highway 101 and gruesome, gratuitous poachers cut away parts of the whale, so getting the body off the beach was a priority. There was also the "gross out" factor; as Jim Rice with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network remarked:
“There seems to be a lot of concern about grossing people out."
a quote that the Register Guard felt important enough to display in large font as a header, highlighting the idea that "grossing people out" was the concern, and justification, to quickly bury the whale rather than wait and tow it out to sea.
The problem was how to move the body; blowing it up had already been tried in 1970, when a whale beached itself on a Florence beach. Naturally that turned out to be an unpleasant mistake. This time, the town decided burying the body was a good choice. A giant hole was excavated, the body rolled into it, after scientists had their way slicing away body parts to study why and how it died.
Jim remarked that this all seemed very sad; wrong somehow, the body belonged in the sea, not in a hole. It just seems wrong to bury a sea creature on land. However, the authorities believed the ocean conditions unfavorable to send the body out:
The early afternoon’s high tide had failed to carry the whale back out to sea, and U.S. Coast Guard officials deemed the rough surf at Heceta Head too treacherous to try towing it out via some kind of boat.
Instead, the whale was buried in a hole, with this memorial:
Parks workers dumped lime on the carcass as the dozers carved out a little extra space for its tail, then filled in the hole. As they worked, Kelly Lucas, whose husband, Dennis, is the manager of Heceta Head Scenic Viewpoint, fashioned a handmade cross from two sticks bound by yellow caution tape. She then stuffed the stems of a bouquet of daffodils she picked from her garden into the cross and laid it against some driftwood.
“We named him Jonah,” she said.
End to sad tale of whale:Eugene Register Guard
Washed Up Fin Whale Forces Beach Closure:Register Guard
Image source:The Explodingwhale.com
Jim Rich: Yessy.com and blog.
Fin whale image public domain.