Flying Blubber and Aggressive EVPs
THAT WHALEY STINKS: Up in Prince Edwards Island, Canada’s smallest province, a whale of a recovery effort is being made. And it’s making a high-heavens stink.
Those always-zany folks who call themselves scientists are exhuming an enormous blue whale that was buried beneath the island’s northern beaches nearly 20 years ago.
These edu-diggers want to place the skeleton of this monstrous marine mammal in a new museum in British Columbia. It would be showstopper. A blue whale is the largest animal to ever grace the planet. It could squish a T-Rex in a heartbeat – providing a blue whale managed to haul itself onto land and as it rolled off a cliff a hapless T-Rex just happened to be below and … well, you get where I’m going with this. These whales are record-breaking huge.
I have some science teachings in my blood, though hardly of a pedigree that allows me to second-guess folks with not just letters (PhD) after their names but an entire alphabet. Hell, some science folks now carry Advanced Superfluous Academician Degree. Still, those Canadian scientists really shoulda consulted me about the decay rate of a 90-foot leviathan – a mammal that carries around enough frickin’ blubber on it to feed Japanese sashimi clubs for the next millennium. Note: A hamster buried in your backyard 20 years ago is still, let’s say, a bit fleshy.
Since they failed to ask me, the scientists quickly found out that after 20 years below ground, the whale was still a hunka chunk of blubber – hideously pukey smelly blubber. The stench from just the partially exhumed whale was so bad that coroners were running away with tears in their eyes.
But here’s where I can most relate to this saga: The folks on Prince Edwards Island are very laid back, old world-ish – locals times ten. Just picture them sitting around the bar reflecting on the ridiculous goings on up north – the stench reaching south-end towns when the winds were right. I’m guessing they were so unbelieving of the whale dig that no one around the bar said a thing; just once again someone would make this odd sound of disbelief and everyone else would shake their heads in agreement.
But you have to give credit where scientifically due. Those exhumers wadded Vick’s Vapor Rub up their nostrils until it reached their enlarged brain stems and tirelessly hacked the blue-colored meat off that whale, often peeling away what amounted to two feet of rancid rotting ex-flesh. For their trouble, they exposed over 100 composite skeletal parts, which were each numbered and readied for – are you ready for this? – individual bathing in a chemical solution that takes off all remaining flesh.
Having done such de-fleshing on a small scale (cleaning the likes of roadkill possum, foxes, deer and the likes), I assure you that no fouler smell can be imagined, even when dealing with fresh flesh.
As those blue whale bones now fester in a chemical bath, allegedly gaining on a museum-grade whiteness, I smile at the prospect of placing the reconstructed leviathan skeleton in a closed building. Remember: These are the same scientists that figured the targeted whale would be a mere skeleton after being buried 20 years.
Why am I so focused on this rotten blubber matter?
I beckon back to a very famed LBI incident when, in the 1950s, a largish dead whale washed onto one of our beaches, soon garnering a huge crowd. Back in those days, incidents like this – in this case, how to dispose of the beast -- were handled with a pitch-in mentality. Ideas randomly arose from the surrounding crowd of locals. One of those standing in the circle was a local builder. After suggestions like burying, hauling off, pushing back into the ocean were in the mix, the builder nonchalantly suggested, “We can blow it up with dynamite.”
Since the majority of those in the dead whale circle were men -- most of whom would love nothing more that to see what a whale being blown up looked like -- logical solutions like burial or towing out to sea were essentially blown off the decision map. In as sincere-looking a vote as possible, it was unanimously decided to dynamite the whale, a couple guys offering encouragements like, “I think I still have some blasting caps in my garage.”
The rest is history – not lore, by the way. It happened.
The blowing up of a dead whale was, in deed, a sight to behold, as blubber bits rained down for half a mile in all directions. There are tales of post-blast seagulls staggering around with pieces of blubber hanging off their bodies. Humans didn’t fare much better. Many witnesses were pulling whale gunk out of their hair and beards as they slowly walked up to the smoking hole where the whale had lain. Sadly, there were no tape recorders around to hear the dialogue among the folks standing around looking into the blubber-lined depression in the sand. I have to think there were more than a few mumbles of “Hey, it wasn’t my idea.”
What is known in greater detail are the obscenity-laced comments made when, within days, the smell set in. The free-range blubber went rancid, then rotted. The entire de-whaling process was a fat fiasco, however, many of the old-timers could be seen plodding nonchalantly around chunks of blubber, knowing they had seen something few people had ever seen. Unfortunately, most Island towns quickly enacted ordinances forbidding the use of any and all explosives to remove beached marine mammals.
SLEEP DEPRIVED EVPS: As I’m prone to do, I’d like to sneak a non-angling item in here – pass it off as an insight into what local outdoorspeople do in their spare time.
When not trudging the beaches or the outback, I’m heavily into the SciFi Channel series called “Ghost Hunters,” a weekly para-reality series marked by the ghost hunting activities of the fairly normal folks at TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), led by Roto-Rooter plumbers Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. That plumbing angle is apropos since I’m often haunted by the costs of having my pipes worked on.
Anyway, this one-hour show is a study in the somewhat scientific approach to seeking ghostly entities at high-haunt sites. The TAPS team uses quite-cool equipment and conduct themselves in a fairly sophisticated manner, with the occasional “Dude, run!” thrown in.
While I’m always focused like an owl on each episode, I’m not always willing to run with the group’s “findings,” i.e. the so-called evidence of hauntings they catch on video or audio.
A near weekly finding has to do with EVPs, electronic voice phenomena. EVPs are noises that are often indiscernible to the human ear but are somehow recorded by taping devices and heard on playback. And some pretty freaky sounds climb into the recorders the TAPS crew carry with them during nightlong investigations of haunted sites.
I’s when Jason, Grant and the TAPS group interpret the taped moans, groans, crackles and pops they’ve captured that I sometimes get a bit alienated. They can translate odd and unearthly sounds into words like, “Leave Us Alone” while I distinctly hear those sounds as “Liggyhup(crackle, pop)tootun.”
I’m not a disbeliever, mind you, I just find it hard attributing a weird whining sound to a lady who died in an untimely manner 150 years ago, as opposed to a cat in heat just outside the haunted building. Still, some sounds even I can’t deny, include children laughing, women crying and (as noted, my favorite) “Dude, run!”
Like the TAPS folks, I’m more into disputing claims of hauntings and supernatural activity. I have a battery of fiercely scientific explanations at the ready when faced with an alleged paranormal flare-up. Of course, I lower my scientific guard when it comes to some astounding and unexplainable ghost sighting I had in my younger days on Maui. Those experiences were vivid, bizarre and purely divorced from the psychedelic atmosphere of the late Sixties.
But for now, I want to offer a very intense EVP experience I recently had.
With a very sensitive hand-held tape recorder in tow, I did a middle-of-the-night EVP run, driven to wee-hour activities by my ill-advisedly downing an energy drink too close to beddy-bye time. I should have been forewarned by the fact the drink hypes itself as “The ultimate amped out brain-banging beverage.” I know I’m not sleepy when the hula girls on my pajamas begin dancing all over the place. The noise from those swishing grass skirts can be so aggravating.
Driven to ghost hunting by triple-X caffeine crystals and enough ginseng to make Buddha giddy, I headed to an area of state forest where rangers had seen odd and ghostly things. Legend had it that a multiple murder had taken place at a home located there in the mid-1800s. I knew the whereabouts of a hidden cellar hole that was most likely the scant remains of that homestead.
In the pitch blackness it was a tad tough even finding the site even using my truck’s high beams – and, yes, when you’re on a ghost-seeking mission the mind begins the spooky search even before the site. A moth suddenly flying into my beams gets me grabbing for the mace. OK, so I’m the planet’s only ghost hunter who keeps mace close at hand. Hey, they don’t make aerosol cans of holy water capable of shooting out 15 feet.
So I reach the haunt zone and make three stops in the heavily wooded area. At each one I hold out my tape recorder and ask the standard ghost-oriented questions. “Is anyone here who would like to talk to me?” “I’m not here to hurt you (as if).” “Are you one of the people who died here?” “What’s your sign?”
At the first two stops, nothing remotely supernatural wormed its way into my recorder. However, my third stop would be a real wake-up call.
I was getting tired and discouraged so I approached the last site pretty aggressively. During “Ghost Hunters,” the team often gets sassy with the spirits, trying to provoke them into responding. I went that route.
No sooner was I out of the trucks than I commenced with, “I know you’re here but you’re too chicken to show yourself.”
I then loudly offered a, “Go ahead and try to spook me. Show me you’re not a bunch of paranormal sissies.”
I got deadly personal when I offered, “For dead people, you’re mighty cowardly.
Come out and show yourself.”
I then stopped to listen in. That’s when I heard it, clear as day: “Get outta here. Leave us alone.”
I stood there, a tad shaken. “Holy crap!” I kept mumbling.
However, my knee-jerk shock settled very quickly. I can be heard on the recorder saying out loud, “What the hell kinda EVP was that?”
I went from a supernatural-experience ecstasy to one of those “Wait a minute...” pauses.
Grabbing the million candlepower spotlight I keep around for ghost-hunting security, I beamed over toward the direction of the voice. That’s when I saw this white big-eyed face just kinda floating there.”
“Off goes the beam.
What the frig?”
I was quickly back to a something’s-not-right mode
Moving forward a bit, I re-lit the zone to find there were now two white heads floating, kinda one under the other. Keeping my beam focused, I started tilting my head right then left, up then down, trying to better focus on this bizarre finding. That’s when the upper head opened its mouth and spoke clear as can be, “What the hell do you want?”
In typical I-can’t-believe-this fashion I said, “Uh, nothing” and clicked off the flashlight.
Turns out, I had pulled up almost on top of a couple camping inside a camouflaged tent. My bad. Ironically, it was campsite that I first cleared years ago.
Driving home I could only think of what was going through the minds of those two happily snuggled outdoors folks as I began aggressively asking, “Are you the people who were murdered here?”
Trying to stay in the spirit of things, I pictured the ghosts out there laughing their vaporous asses off.
(Under the slight chance that the camping couple reads this column, no hard feelings, please. If you’re so inclined, drop me an e-line and let you in on some super good camping site sin that general area.
RUN-DOWN: Weekend angling led to a veritable stack of striped bass bound for the Simply Bassin’ 2008 tourney. The board-filling showing of stripers was mainly due to a huge number of guys fishing the beaches and banks. Those who clicked with larger fish often had to wade through some long lulls in the action. Perseverance pays.
Here’s the leader board:
1) Jason DelFalazzo 24-14 (38” 23 ¼”) B.L. area Bunker
2) Dean Stankiewicz 23-15 (39 ¾”22”) Holgate area Clam
3) Gregory M O’Connell 20-12 (39”20 ½”) B.L. area Bunker
4) Jake Behan 16-12 (36 ½”18 ½”) Brant Beach Clam
5) John Parzych 16-6 (36” 20”) Beach Haven Clam
6) Dante Soriente 15-12 (34 ¾”19 ½”) Beach Haven Clam
7) Gordon Kirk 14-8 (35 ¾”\17”) BH Park Clam
8) Daniel J. Sullivan 13-14 (34 ½”17 ¼”) North BH Clam
Simply Bassin’ 2008 goes all the way through June so sign up and target that anticipated $1,000 first prize, with goodly amounts of cash for the top 8 fish.
I also found some reports of very nice non-tourney stripers being caught.
Those better-based hookups kinda flew in the face of many nega-reports (negative feedback) I got between Friday and today’s deadline (Tuesday). On average, it is still falling far short of a slammin’ spring out there. However, when you see other guys managing a weigh-in worthy hookup, it perks that competitive surge in the rest of us, especially those signed up for the tourney, an eight-week event.
I should add that there are definitely surfside glory holes for schoolie bass. Some street ends allow catching these sub-28-inchers at a fairly steady pace. Per usual, it seems the hot spots stay hot and those street ends with nothing maintain their nothingness.
I had a fellow plugger/jigger tell me has been doing quite well on the small bass, adding, “Nothing even close to keepable.” He’s even had a couple late-day jig-fests with “nearly nonstop” hits.
“I’ve gotten bass as small as 10 inches,” he said.
I can’t even begin to list this fellow’s favorite plugs/jigs since he’s one of those Type A casters, who has total faith in the plug he has on – for about three cast. Him and I differ only in his obsession with teasers, which I am certain detract from the motion of a trailing plug. His teaserism is also what brings home 10-inch stripers. .
The black seabass are out there and some up-north charter and headboat are doing very well, including some 5-pounders. However, I have conflicting reports from wreck anglers down this way, where the seabassing is barely decent and marked by huge absent zones, either fished out or lacking resident fish. Also, we aren’t seeing much of an influx of seabass into the shallows and inlets.
Tog taking is verboten all the way to July 15. I can’t count the number of folks who think you can still keep one blackie a day. In fact, most of them don’t believe the season is totally closed even after I tell them. Looks like Fish and Game is going to score some fines when checking coolers and wells this weekend.
I know anglers don’t even want me to acknowledge this in passing but it is turning into a banner junkfish season. If you don’t mind putting the trash out, you’ll see plenty of line play thanks to dogfish (sand sharks), skate and (all too soon) robins. For junkfish variety, we’re already getting stargazers.
If I had to pick a junkfish I’m least put off by it would be a ‘gazer. These buriers, shaped a bit like a violently overgrown blowfish, are pretty colorful -- and a handful when being fought. They also carry an electrical charge. Quite cool.
Bluefishing should be near the top of the pick for the upcoming holiday weekend but they’re not out there is massivity, whatsoever. Looking back on last year, the cocktail blues were present to the point of distraction. This year, I’m thinking they’ll be a lot more appreciated as the main take-home item of the day, considering you can’t keep fluke or tog and shouldn’t be coolering spawning weakfish. Thus, I bring them up lastly.
It might be just me but the weakie spawn seems to be running very late. I have reports of superb sparklers (to 10 pounds) being caught -- and an equally sparkling catch-and-release ethic being employed. However (and please don’t take this wrongly), I anticipate the holiday weekend hordes might not be as judicious in releasing huge spawn-ready lady weaks.