Feb 09

Killer whale harpooned outside Morro Bay

Richard K. Stroud and his killer whale on deck of "Lynann" at Morro Bay.

Richard K. Stroud and his killer whale on deck of "Lynann" at Morro Bay.

February 12, 1966
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife came to Morro Bay to study the Alaskan fur seal. Using true 1960′s logic it involved killing seals and harpooning an orca.
GPS tracking devices could only be imagined and research techniques decidedly more destructive then. The arrival of the “Lynann” was covered in an earlier post. This story was published on Valentine’s day.
The story was unbylined, photo by Jack Wilson.

Weighed 2 1/2 tons

Killer whale harpooned outside Morro’s Harbor

MORRO BAY — A 2 1/2-ton killer whale was harpooned outside the harbor here Saturday afternoon, a violent episode in the preparation of a U.S. “Kinsey Report” on the sex life of the Alaskan fur seal.
The wale was one of a pod (pack) of sic of these vicious, though strikingly beautiful predators ranging at the time not far offshore between Point Buchon and Morro Rock.
The sleek, black and white specimen and his bully buddies had the misfortune of sharing the course of the whaling ship “Lynann” on its way into port for the weekend to escape rough weather at sea.
The “Lynann” and her sister whaling ship, the “Pribilof,” are presently engaged off the Central Coast by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in conduct of an Alaskan fur seal survey mission.
1966-2-14-killer-whale-harpoonedRichard K. Stroud of Portland, Ore. is the chief marine biologist aboard and the “Dr. Kinsey” of the fur seal operation at sea.
He is gathering evidence on the life and mating behavior of the Alaskan fur seal for the U. S. Bureau of Commercial  Fisheries, Marine Mammal Biological Laboratory at Seattle Wash., and the killer whale figures importantly in this picture Stroud says.
These whales prey on warm blooded sea animals, other whales, the Alaskan fur seal and the sea otter. While not generally regarded as man-eaters, Stroud doubts that a swimmer would find one of these fellows very friendly.
This one measured 20 feet and 8 inches, a bull with a heavily worn, though fully serviceable set of interlocking peg teeth.
Sunday morning the sea outside had calmed and the “Lynann” left port to resume her patrol of the wintering ground of the Alaskan fur seal between Point Conception and the Faralon Islands west of the Golden Gate.
Stroud and his fellow biologists aboard planned to butcher their killer whale Sunday while far out at sea. They will take note of the stomach content, possibly a number of fur seals, though Stroud believes these whales have been pursuing the gray whales presently migrating south off the Central Coast.
The skull and other vital organs of this whale will go into the freezer of the sister whaling ship for eventual delivery to the laboratory in Seattle.
Stroud says the mission being conducted offshore is under terms of the international treaty drawn up in 1911 and revised in 1957 between the U.S., Russia, Japan and Canada to protect the Alaskan fur seal facing extinction at the time.
This treaty banned the practice of “pelagic sealing” (taking seals at sea).
As revised in 1957, pelagic sealing for research purposes is allowed with the findings of this research to be shared by all treaty parties.
Most of the seals wintering off the California coast are female and young bulls, while Russia and Japan report that the wintering herd off Asian shores is marked by a greater number of older bulls.
The reason for this separation of the herd is not fully understood and this is one of the riddles Stroud and his men hope to resolve during the course of this survey concerned with the birth rate, feeding habits, distributions, sex ratio and herd composition.
Stroud and his two aids aboard, Roger Paul and David Harcomb, are all graduates of the Oregon State University in fisheries science, Stroud’s field being marine mammals.
The killer whale taken Saturday was spotted by Lloyd Newton, skipper of the “Lynann” while approaching Morro Rock at 11:50 a.m. The kill was made an hour later.
A member of the porpoise family, the killer whale hunts in packs, exercising fully his keen sense of hearing, sight and possibly an ability to communicate Stroud says.

We now know whales and dolphins communicate and are intelligent. The first captive killer whales were taken in the 1960′s but until humans figured out how to care for them they only survived a few days to a few months. Normally males live into their 30s and females into their 50s though they can live longer.


In other news on the page, LSD is about to be outlawed and smash and grab robbers made off with over $3,000 of camera equipment from Cal Photo. They were not smart bandits, they took the cheap stuff and left the more expensive lenses.

Related posts:

  1. 1966 Seal Hunters in Morro Bay
  2. 1963 Whale
  3. Morro Bay Power Plant built
  4. Morro Bay fishing
  5. Clamming in Morro Bay