The story in a nutshell? The Soviet Union, the United States, Inuits who hunted whales, and Greenpeace worked together to save three gray whales trapped by advancing ice--at the height of the Cold War.
|Photo of commemorative t-shirt by Campbell Plowden|
Even after the Russian icebreakers arrived and carved a channel, it seemed as if the whales might not be able to make it. That must have been a moment of despair.
Really, one of the most amazing experiences for me was when we knew the Soviets were coming, and they were going to make their first pass, and there was just me and one other person out there on the ice, I think it was 1 or 2 in the morning, and the icebreaker kept getting closer. I think the whales could start sensing open water, and they started swimming really fast from hole to hole, and then, where we had a light set up for the Soviet ice cutter to see where the last hole was, they started rushing that last hole, and water would come rushing out of it, like a wave. And I thought, ‘Well, this is it, I probably won’t see them again.’
And I went over and knelt down by that hole, and this one whale came up and blew on me – and because it was 30 below, I had all this whale breath that just froze on the front of my parka. And then he just rested his head on the ice, and we had this most amazing eye contact, and I just said, ‘You know what? You guys are going home.’
Is that sappy? Yeah, maybe. And absolutely true.
|Commemorative patch photo by Campbell Plowden|
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