Monday, February 13, 2012

The Monterey Whale Case - Big Names, Big Mystery?

In case you missed it there's a two part investigative article written by Virgina Hennessey with the Monterey Herald about protected whales in the Monterey Sanctuary and an underground story about a whale mother and calf, some Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in hot pursuit, and what may or may not happened when a film crew became involved back in 2005.

The result of that encounter became part of a PBS documentary called "The Gray Whale Obstacle Course".

"In The Gray Whale Obstacle Course, Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Ocean Adventures team search for clues about this resilient, yet threatened species to gain a better understanding of the increasing challenges, both natural and man-made, that gray whales face along the way." 

What is known at this time is that whale biologist Nancy Black is being tried for feeding a Killer Whale a piece of whale blubber.  

"The Monterey resident made her first appearance in U.S. District Court in San Jose on Thursday, pleading not guilty to two counts of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act by feeding or attempting to feed the killer whales. She was also arraigned on two counts alleging she altered a video of a 2005 encounter with a humpback whale and lied about it to an investigator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

What is also known is the bizarre political maneuvering and intrigue from Jean-Michel Cousteau to keep his name and his organization out of the limelight. Including apparent approaches to Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel:

"It is unknown whether authorities are still considering charging anyone in the organization, but Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, said the younger Cousteau asked him to intervene in the investigation. The congressman said last week the investigation involved the Cousteau team's conduct during filming of the orca attack, but he had no other details" .

Monterey Sanctuary is the jewel in the crown of the entire US Sanctuary system. This court case and the levels of intrigue going back to 2005 should be interesting to watch.

If you are not following this case at this time - you should be.

Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or