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14 Comments by ssadove

Beached humpback whale draws a crowd in East Hampton

I was sent to this site by mutual friends. I appreciate the supportive views expressed here as to what I would do or would have done. I have avoided answering press requests for comment out of respect for the scientific staff at Riverhead that once worked for me and I trained. However, many of you are sadly correct. Mr Bowman is not a scientist and many times in the past his obvious lack of knowledge only does the public, the environment and wildlife a dis-service. Baleen whales (which this is, and it is a humpback) are not social, they more often travel alone or in changing groups, There is no family unit other than the cow calf bond which is short lived. I know the scientific staff at Riverhead and I suspect that they are being kept from making comment with Mr. Bowman as usual the mouthpiece so that no legacy type person develops. Either way at this point the whale should be put out of its misery. This is possible and I have done so in the past. The time to attempt moving it is long past and probably would have been unsuccessful without treating the animals underlying conditions. However, it has been done and euthansia is far more humane than the labored, stressed breathing and behavior that all are witness to now. There is not enough space here to say all the details but hopefully if enough people call for it Mr Bowman will be put in the background and real scientists put in the foreground.
Good Luck
S Sadove" Apr 7, 10 1:11 PM

Whale beached in East Hampton survives first attempt at euthanization

Sadly many of you are correct. It seems that only now is euthanazia being "discussed". As I have said in my previous comment this process does not need to involve a "harpoon" hypodermic and can be done and has been done by myself and others in years past using the existing equipment the Riverhead team has. The real problem is the lack of knowledge, information, education, and care being shown to the public, environment and the whale by Mr Bowmans responses and his lack of knowledge. Once the whale was stranded for a few hours he knows that recovery and survivability were unlikely. So why not tell the public this and tell them that the best thing to do would be euthanasia. No to him it seems that it is best to watch it suffer "a natural" death. I know of one baleen whale a number of years ago that took 6 days to die. This was unacceptable to me when I started Okeanos and is so now. I have made no comment on things I have seen for 14 years at Riverhead but Mr Bowmans ignorance and misinformation have caused me to have to say something at the least for the whale. Euthanize it now. If you don't know how then have the staff call me or Mr Schoelkopf of the New Jersey Standing Center. Sadly I suspect neither will happen for political reasons. MR Bowman needs to let scientist do thier jobs and learn his facts before he does another TV interview." Apr 7, 10 9:31 PM

Whale killed with bullet; experts defend how beaching was handled

THe Town/Village do not have jurisdiction but RIverhead does. They are the Designated letter holder by New York State, the National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA. The town/ Village are responsible for the costs of the Police on scene 24hours a day, and usually the payloader use to bury or remove it. In this case the payloader cost might not have to have been born my the town/village. That is probably yet to be determined." Apr 10, 10 8:23 PM

It has been far too many years. I will try and find a way to get you my contact information privately. And thanks I remember that whale ans those days fondly as well.
" Apr 10, 10 8:25 PM

I too know Dr. Moore and respect him. However he was not there until Thursday/Friday. I agree with you that not every animal should or can be saved. I well know this as the Founder of the Stranding Program for New York many years ago. I have been there and done that. However, my comments and some of those here are regarding the mis-information promulgated and the harm that that did in the publics understanding of this event. Lets be clear this was a yearling whale past weaning and probably on its own. Mom was not liklely arond and probably had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately Mr Bowman incorrectly stated that is was a "nursing baby" and with its "family group" From your background I know that you know Humpbacks do not have family groups and it was not nursing. You are possibly correct that some underlying cause lead to this stranding. Most (better than 80%) do. Yet the constant lack of accurate information just leads to further problems. Lastly I will say that I believe it should have been euthanized on Tuesday once it was decided that rescue was not an option. I would not have shot it or used drugs as another alternative exists. Yet it could have been shot at the latest on Wednesday if that is what was going to be done. Instead we now have a dart lost in the ocean and the whale suffering until Friday. Those are my issues.
S Sadove" Apr 10, 10 8:40 PM

Well the whale is dead and off the beach, euthanasia done with a rifle after 4 days, and now we have a dart floating around. I am well aware that Riverhead will not have necropsy results for some time. I only hope in the interest of future events and support that they will release those results and the raw data when they get them. Then we may all be able to see what the situation was. This whole thing has been a representation of how not to handle an event. I am not just talking about the animal itself I am also talking about what kind of and the quality of the information the public is given. This event was a poingant example of how mis-information leads to poor understanding, response and support. Perhaps some good will come from this in that some change will happen for Riverhead and not just more secrecy. I can say for my part I will no longer be silent. I will be watching more intently and be more willing to respond to the press when they contact me. Understanding that some of the time that will mean supporting the actions taken and at other times, like this one, not supporting it.
I think that the interest shown at the very least can be considered a positive thing.
Samuel S Sadove Founder Okeanos Ocean Reserch Foundation, New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program" Apr 10, 10 9:09 PM

You are very correct that those working on the whale do have compassion. Kim, Rob and the various volunteers do this work because they are dedicated and concerned. That was the reason I hired and trained them back many years ago and they have it today. You are also correct in that in many ways thier hands are tied. Some by NMFS/NOAA and some by the Riverhead Foundation structure. Regardless the criteria are part of the problem here. NMFS/NOAA have created guidelines/rules that make it hard unless you are willing to be a maverick (as I have been accused on on this site and am proud of being). I still don't know if I would have in fact tried to get it back out to sea. I was not there within those first few hours when that was an option. Bob Schoelkopf at the New Jersey Stranding Center does have a device to tow it off the beach. Could it have gotten here in time. Maybe, I know Bob well and he certainly would have tried if asked. Yet the Riverhead Foundation staff are correct in that the overwhelming majority of large whales that strand and are pushed off just come back up somewhere else.
When I first saw the whale, surf conditions were milder than they became. The whale was maintaining horizontal posture and breathing was not too labored. So to answer your question, yes the animals condition should weigh into a decision. I don't know if that was done here. I am not even sure that accurate information was relayed since the two senior experienced staff were down in West Virgina at a meeting with NMFS on large whales. That left either Mr Bowman or junior staff and or volunteers observing. Based upon reports in the beginning and interviews with Mr. Bowman those first two days, whoever was providing the information did not know what they were talking about. Upon my seeing the whaleon Tuesday it was very clear it was NOT emaciated, it was NOT a nursing baby, and it was unlikely part of any family group since no such thing exists in baleen whales. The only stable group is the cow calf bond and that only lasts on average for a year. This whale was not a calf from this past winter but the winter before, hence it was at least 13 months old and probably more like 15 months. Humpback whales become independed from the mothers on average after 1 year (per studies and papers by Phil Clapham a NMFS scientist). So all of these incorrect "facts" are also handcuffing events for the Riverhead Staff.
Regardless, the management of this was to say the least poor.Culminating in a lost poison dart and a Necropsy that the Press were completely excluded from. I am not one who believes they will hide the eventual results but the handling just makes it harder to dispel that rumor. Sunlight has always been a good thing. Both our state tax and Federal tax dollars support this work and we should demand greater professionalism and information.
Time will tell." Apr 11, 10 11:48 AM

Sorry but in part you are incorrect. Riverhead Holds the LOA (Letter of Authorization) from NMFS/NOAA and New York State has a section 6 agreement under the ESA. This agreement gives the State the authority to desigante an agency or individual to act as Lead. In the case of ALL stranded marine mammals and sea turtles in New York this is the RIverhead Foundation. Please also be aware that sea turtles are also Federally listed Endangered species. So although the Feds usually are techincally the "Lead Agency" by virtue of the LOA and this agreement Riverhead has the authority and responsibility to respond. They do notify NMFS/NOAA on unusual situation and then continue to respond as they determine unless NOAA determines that they need to assume responsibility. Due tho the NMFS staff located such a long distance away they do not often get involved directly. Certainly NFMS/NOAA does not "lead" on every sea turtle stranded along east coast beaches.
As for spreading mis inforamtion. Riverhead was the lead distributor of this mis information inclusive to its own senior staff (Kim and Rob who were not here for the first 2 days) That information was on the specifics of the stranding and the whale itself. It was NOT a "nursing" baby "needing its mother". It was also closer to 30 ft not 20-25 ft. it was also NOT emaciated. This inaccurated information all came from Mr. Bowan not a marine mammal biologist. The diservice to Kim and Rob came from within not from the people here. We will not know but perhaps is they had been told that is was a juvenile independant humpback whale in what visually looked to be good flesh different plans would have been made.
Regardless once the whale had been on the beach for a number of hours and euthanasia was the likely outcome that decision should have been made and executed. Not days later in a poor manner. I and others have done it and done it fast.
" Apr 13, 10 10:24 PM

Wrong Species, it is a Sperm whale and yes it was in fact marked and sighted 6 months later alive! As for the Right whale catalogue I have a copy and have contributed photos to it.
S Sadove" Apr 13, 10 10:28 PM

Yes that is the whale, came to be called "Physty"
S Sadove" Apr 13, 10 10:29 PM

I am sorry but I don't give out email or phone here. However send a request through Facebook with you ID here and I will respond. I am not in it frequently but will get back to you.
S Sadove" Apr 13, 10 10:31 PM

In Part yes" Apr 14, 10 7:58 AM

You are correct the information was relay by those on scene, Mr Bowman and the Riverhead volunteers. Realize these volunteers are very hard working and dedicated but not trained and not competant to make those kinds of assessments. The decision of death was made on poor information at best as we can all see that Mr. bowmans statements over the first two days were incorrect at best. More qualified personnel were available but not utilized, no one called me or Even Dr. Kopelman of CRESLI. Yes changes should be made. One of the basic ones is out of Riverheads hands and in the hands of NMFS. Both senior staff at Riverhead should not have been at that meeting at the busiest time of the year. The potential exist for this to happen again in less than a month if both senior staff attend the NE Regional Stranding Network meeting. Spring is the busiest time of year for all but sea turtle strandings. As to where to go. Well get more involved write those who have been listed here to give greater abilities to Riverhead Senior staff, stop the secrecy and get outside people involved and do not use Board members and volunteers as those making the assesment
S Sadove" Apr 14, 10 8:06 AM

Beached whale in East Hampton put down; euthanization dart missing on Main Beach

If those are your criteria for critisizing then here goes. I have more than put my money where my mouth is. When I founded and ran Okeanos and The Stranding Program I did it with my own money and NO PAY for years and still took the comments as they could help. I also took no pay when we finally had funds for 6 months so the Kim and ROb could get paid and then was screwed out of that money ultimately by the folks that took over and formed the RIverhead FOundation so I think I have grounds to speak by your criteria. I am also not saying that the volunteers and Sceintific staff ar Riverhead don't care and try. They do. However this event points up so many of the issues I have had over the last 14 years with the way RIverheah operates. The people giving information to the press should either know what they are talking about or let those that do speak. Being a board member does not make you an "expert". So much harm was done to the staff and volunteers of the RIverhead Foundation themselves, much less the whale by completely incorrect statements. The whale was not a nursing calf (baby) it was an independent juvenile a minimum of 13-15 months old. It would likely not have been with its mother. It was NOT emaciated, it was NOT 20 -25 ft it was 30 ft, it was not "one ton" it was closer to 12. The list just goes on. Perhaps if accurate information was given from the first day and not this litany of misinformation different actions would have been taken. I was there every day and early on the first day. The whale was extremely active opening its mouth and trying to get off. The surf was flat calm and ther was less than 5 knots of wind. Whether you made an attempt to free it or euthanize it all would have been simpler and better for all involved in the first 24 hours. Not 80 hours later. IF NMFS/NOAA won't give this kind of authority (that we all used to do) to the LOA holders then what is the purpose to haveing trained experienced people locally. Just have the NMFS/NOAA people run all over the east coast doing as they did in this instance.
As for dedicating lives to conservation. Google my name, look at that I have done started, continued and do still. If you get close then please criticize on.
Samue S. Sadove" Apr 14, 10 3:46 PM