WHALE'S PROGRESS (CONT.)
This is an article from the Aug. 2, 1965 issue
When last we left Namu the killer whale (SI, July 26), he was lolling along at sea on his way to a Seattle aquarium. Around him was a flimsy cage, an armada of little boats, some other visiting whales and a wonderfully lunatic air of long-sustained suspense. In short, the entire adventure was about as shaky as the cage.
It was becoming a good deal sturdier as Namu neared Seattle last Sunday. The Free-Namu forces, still hopeful that he would escape, continued to fight, but weakly. They cited an obscure state law that prohibits feeding Namu people-food, such as salmon. But Thor Tollefson, state fisheries chief, granted a 30-day amnesty which, hopefully, would give Namu's owner, Edward Griffin, time to wean the whale to trash fish.
Maybe. Another state biologist said killer whales eat only live food and, therefore, Namu probably was not eating the dead salmon thrown to him but instead was living on his blubber while waiting for a few fat seals to swim by. If this proved true, Owner Edward Griffin might end up exhibiting the world's skinniest whale. No one thought that seal lovers—or even fur-coat lovers—would hold still if Griffin tried to provide Namu with his favorite fare.
About that exhibit. Enter more humans with an idea about as brave—or as crazy—as any so far. They will donate a nylon-coated fabric to line Namu's cage while a permanent viewing pool is being built. "We'll put in the liner like making up a hospital bed with the patient in it," said one spokesman. That means rolling Namu from side to side while the bottom sheet is tucked under. Odds in Seattle bars are 8 to 5 it can't be done.
And what of Namu himself? Over last weekend he swam calmly along, full of salmon—or blubber—and seemingly happy, except for a quarter-acre expanse of sunburned dorsal fin. By now incapable of being surprised by anything, even a sunburned whale, his keepers tried to brush the fin with zinc oxide and mineral oil, using a paintbrush tied to a 15-foot pole. Namu bared his teeth at them and the talk turned to erecting some sort of parasol to shade him.
Killer whales are reputed to be vastly intelligent; yet here is one, caught in a flimsy net, possibly hungry and certainly sunburned, who looks less smart by the mile. This week ought to tell. Perhaps Namu is smarter than we think. Maybe, like all of us, he can hardly wait to see what will happen next.
Grand Prix Driver Jim Clark is a happy robot. He climbs into the Lotus that Engineer-manager Colin Chapman builds, drives the race that Colin Chapman advises and almost always wins—five out of five so far this year, more than most drivers win in a lifetime. He missed the Grand Prix of Monaco because he was busy that day collecting $166,621 for winning the Indianapolis 500.
It is all but a foregone conclusion that Clark will win the World Driving and Manufacturers championships this year. To clinch it he need win only one of the four remaining races. At the rate he is going he can almost triple the record lifetime total of Grand Prix victories (24) set by the legendary Juan Fangio.
NEPTUNE THE CADDIE
If you are not quite 9 years old, have been playing golf since you were 4, hold the national Pee Wee golf championship but still are banned from most courses because of your age, where do you practice? Beverly Klass, the slender California lass who whipped the best 8 and 9 year olds in the nation to win the Pee Wee title in Orlando, Fla., improvises.
She drives into a net in her backyard. She practices her short irons in the front yard, using as a hazard a big tree with a huge V created by limbs.
"When she first started chipping at the tree she couldn't reach it," her nongolfing father, Jack, reports. "Now, after four years, she splits the V and shatters a few windows, too."
Beverly gets in some long iron and wood work at Casey Stengel's driving range in Burbank, which is normal enough, but her most ingenious improvisation is to use the ocean as a caddie.
"We go out to some remote section of Malibu," her father explained, "and Beverly uses her sand wedge and pops the balls into the ocean. When she uses her woods we place a large mat in the damp sand and she slams away into the Pacific."
Plastic balls are used and they float back ashore on the incoming waves.
THE SEASON OPENS
Every year about this time intrepid individuals begin crossing the English Channel to set some new record: on water skis, by bicycle, in a kite, submerged or by just plain swimming. Bob Platten, a London bank clerk, has previously crossed in a canoe, an iron bedstead and a barrel. Last week he poured himself into a Gilbey's Gin bottle (giant economy size), cut a hole in the side for a 4½-hp motor and set a no-deposit, no-return bottle record of eight hours 20 minutes.
While Platten is preparing for his next voyage—in a banana—a strictly conventional record may be set by Linda Carol McGill. The 19-year-old Australian competed in four events at the 1964 Olympics: the individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly, the 200-meter breaststroke and the 400-meter medley relay. She is now in London working days as a switchboard operator and nights as a barmaid in a Fleet Street pub, where bottles are for selling, not for sailing. Her ambition is to better the women's Channel record of 11 hours one minute.
One of the reasons Linda McGill is training for a 21-mile marathon instead of the standard 100-meter sprint is that she was also a member of Dawn Fraser's freestyle team of free swingers at the Tokyo Olympics, whose exploits included an attempt to cross the moat of the Imperial Palace on a bike. She was punished like the others. For her efforts on behalf of the team she was placed under a four-year ban from all competition in regulation pools. The Channel is not a regulation pool.
THE HOT-SEAT ANGLER
Most rod-and-reel fishermen deplore the use of the harpoon on such splendid fighters as the broadbill swordfish, though the excuse is often given that the fish refused a persistently presented bait. ("Persistently" sometimes means two passes.) Now comes a new threat to sport—the electric harpoon.
Edward L. Gerry, a Massachusetts resident who summers at Bustin's Island, Me., has been using the new harpoon this season with depressing success. Very like the conventional harpoon, except that it delivers 250 volts when Gerry presses a button, it has accounted for hundreds of pounds of marketable tuna so far. The prosperous Gerry concedes that he does not need the money, but goes on to add: "I'd like to see this boat pay for itself. I spend an awful lot of money for gas."
On one recent day in Casco Bay he took two tuna, one weighing 538 pounds, the other 615. Such big fish, he said, require at least 40 seconds of voltage. "It stiffens them right up," he said. "We slide them back to the stern, gaff them and they're aboard in a few minutes." Needless to say, an electrocuted tuna gives very little fight.
On the other hand, said Gerry, 250 volts is too much for swordfish. "When you hit a swordfish with this," he explained, "it breaks his backbone into about 800 pieces. It turns the fish to jelly." So on a two-week trip to the sword-fishing grounds on Georges Banks in August he will experiment with lower voltage. A spotting plane will cost him $100 a day plus $10 for every fish discovered, but Gerry expects to boat up to 10 fish a day. They average 250 pounds and are worth 50¢ a pound in the market. He should be able to buy lots of gas.
"It kinda takes the sport out of it," a Maine fisherman observed with characteristic understatement, after watching Gerry bring in a passively nonresistant tuna. And even the directors of the "anything goes" Bailey Island Tuna Tournament, open to rod-and-reel fishermen, harpooners and handliners, have barred the electric gear, along with hand grenades, depth charges, poison and other efficient fish-killers.
WHO BUILT THE ARK?
Mammals of the World is the latest in handy reference guides on all the known genera and species of mammalian life. Author Ernest Walker spent 30 years compiling his scholarly work, which totals 2,269 pages (Johns Hopkins Press, $37). In it, nature's grand scheme is finally brought into proper perspective—species Homo sapiens is dismissed in one page. Bats get 214.
The largest underwater park in the world is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a matter of minutes by boat from Key Largo and startlingly beautiful in the clarity of its multicolored waters. Now something incongruous is about to be added.
A statue called Christ of the Abysses, a duplicate of that in the harbor mouth of Genoa, Italy, will shortly be lowered into the park waters, to a depth of about 12 feet. The statue was given by Italian skin divers as a gesture of friendship toward fellow divers in the Underwater Society of America.
The gift was well-intentioned, certainly, but its intrusion into a natural, pristine setting can only be considered tasteless—comparable to the defacement of South Dakota's Mt. Rushmore with the sculpture of Gutzon Borglum.
The fact that the statue is one of Christ—as Borglum's carvings are of revered Presidents—does not excuse the incursion. It is by no means an act of piety to violate a setting that should be forever as it was created.
CHARLITO AT 21
Faced with the very real prospect of losing to Mexico at Dallas this week in the Davis Cup, the U.S. tennis forces were a little embarrassed over the weekend when a U.S. player who is notably not a member of the team blithely beat the two best players in the world an the Pennsylvania grass-court championships. Charles Pasarell, 21, from Puerto Rico and UCLA, walloped the Australian Davis Cup team, Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle, six sets to one. It was the first time either one had lost to an American on grass since 1963.
The question is whether Pasarell has finally fulfilled the promise many saw in him when he was U.S. Junior Champion in 1961. He had had other big wins before the dumfounding events of last week, but "Charlito!"—as they cry at him at home—is erratic and is ranked only 12th nationally. He sometimes loses to guys named Smith, which is what happened in the very first round of the National Clay Courts two weeks ago. Stanley Smith, really! But that was clay, and perhaps we finally do have a new grass-court threat?
"Frankly, the best thing that could have happened to Charlie was not being named to the team," Pasarell's old coach, the respected Welby Van Horn, said in San Juan. "He worried about it too much. Now he can just play." Pasarell wrote Van Horn in May, confused that he had not made good those teenage promises: "I haven't had constant attention as to what I should do. I thought improvement would just come with time, but I'm not mature enough to learn this game by myself."
"The way this game is played now," says Van Horn, "maturity takes longer to come. It's harder. And there's always a barrier, too, that line of demarcation between the players who think they can do it and those who know they can. I think maybe Charlie passed that barrier last week."
"If you must send flowers, send them to South Orange this week," Roy Emerson said. "I like carnations."
The St. Patrick's Church basketball team won the 10th grade championship in the San Francisco Catholic Youth Organization league. Before the season opened, Father Charles Durkin, in a spirit of ecumenism, invited any neighborhood kid to try out. Response was excellent. The starting five on the championship team were all Baptists.
THEY SAID IT
•Don Klosterman, talent scout for the Kansas City Chiefs, on living in Kansas City: "It's a little like living in purgatory. It's not exactly heaven, but it isn't hell."
•Brian Piccolo, the nation's collegiate rushing leader at Wake Forest last fall, on the possibility that he might be too short and slow to play professional football: "I thought all you had to be was good enough."