Whale of a Tale

First, I'd like to thank the Weekly for Traci Hukill's excellent article on the humpback whales, as well as the state of whales in general ("Fluke of Nature," Nov. 30-Dec. 6). She delved into their plight at the hands of the pirate whaling nations, which is a complicated subject and one that is too frequently glossed over.

There were a few small errors in Traci's article, however. Gray whales migrate from the Bering Sea to Baja in the late fall and winter. They are bottom feeders and they feed in shallow waters. They are largely fasting by the time they pass through our waters; they don't gorge themselves here to sustain themselves for the migration farther south. It's the humpbacks and blues that come here to gorge themselves.

However, the grays are opportunistic feeders and if they find a bonanza to their liking, they are not above taking advantage of it. In the early spring of 1999, I had Florian Graner, a marine biologist/underwater film maker, aboard our small research boat along with Dick Russell, who was writing a book on the gray whale. We were over the Monterey submarine canyon in very deep water. The surface was reddish brown with a dense streak of krill, which are tiny crustaceans. A gray whale migrating northbound came swimming through the krill, its jaw "swinging open like a barn door," as Dick put it, gobbling the krill. Its blow was stinky, just like a humpback's, which was the oddest for me since I had never smelled a gray's blow before. Only feeding whales smell bad.

Another error was in calling a whale's pectoral flippers fins. These are mammals, hence they have flippers which are used to slap the water, caress their babies and which spin out from their bodies when they breach.

And finally, although my company, Sanctuary Cruises, operates from Randy's Fishing Trips, it's a unique and separate business. No one goes out with us who doesn't hear of the threats to the whales that are dazzling them, and they are encouraged to join us in fighting to protect them. We have many ideas on how to do that on our website, www.sanctuarycruises.com.

CAPTAIN HEIDI TIURA,

SANCTUARY CRUISES, MONTEREY

Quit Complaining

I am writing this letter in response to a recent letter written to you by a Jeffrey Van Middlebrook (Letters, 11/16-22).

My son works for Pacific Grove Police Department and has done so for about 18 years. I have been a resident of Pacific Grove for about 50 years. I feel safe in PG and have the utmost confidence in my police department's abilities to protect me and my wife, and our neighbors.

Middlebrook sounds bitter because he got a parking ticket and now directs his anger toward PGPD. It is unfortunate that a woman was viciously attacked right here in "The Last Hometown" and I feel for her and her family, as I do with other victims of violent crime. This is not an issue that PGPD can solve all alone. This is a society problem, and Pacific Grove is not the only city to experience violent crime, nor will we be the last.

My suggestion for Middlebrook is to 1.) Pay the ticket and stop blaming others for his mistakes. Next time park legally! 2.) Volunteer to assist PGPD in whatever way he can. Get involved. PGPD has a Citizen's Academy that he can start with. 3.) And, this is not just for Middlebrook, but for others as well. If you see a crime occur, report it and don't be anonymous. Be the best witness you can be. Not just for the police but for the victim. We as citizens owe it to each other, and by getting involved we will all have a safer society.

WILLIAM WHITE, PACIFIC GROVE

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Twisted Logic

This may come as a surprise to Middlebrook, but most criminals don't attempt their crimes when they're in plain view of the police. However, some imbecile parking on the wrong side of the street in a city as small as Pacific Grove is bound to be spotted by police.

I can't understand the logic of people who, when caught in the act of breaking a law they knowingly violated, tell the officer that they should be out looking for people violating laws other than the one they are currently breaking.

BRIAN L. BURLESON, SEASIDE

Don't Give Up On Gore

Those who care about breathing clean air and drinking pure water must know from Al Gore's book, Earth In the Balance, that he deserves to be president. Issues beyond air and water are meaningless.

Please write Al Gore at the White House, lending him your support; tell him not to give up! Even Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan feels Al Gore should hold our highest office.

B.A. SMITH, PACIFIC GROVE

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