Sunday, January 1, 2012
Bonnet, Crossbeak and Bone
First time I stumbled upon the name was in the late eighties. Crossbeak was one of three whales trapped in the Arctic ice on October 1988. An Alaskan Indian who saw the whales called for help. Eskimos responded with chainsaws and pick axes to cut the ice and give more breathing holes to Putu, Siku and Kanik, the names given by their Eskimo rescuers.
Biologists, environmentalists and media later joined the fray and gave the mammals their stage names, Bonnet, Crossbeak and Bone and the rescue operations became transformed to a P.T. Barnum Circus complete with side shows. Whales getting trapped in ice is not a rare phenomenon in the Arctic. Polar bears, sharks and orkas are known predators of animals trapped in ice. Whatever, the name Crossbeak struck my fancy and used it as my own nom de guerre.
Consider these: an Alaska National Guard helicopter armed with a five-ton concrete ice crusher; a pipeline firm's 11 ton ice-breaking "Archimedian Screw Tractor"; de-icing machine suppliers; a hover barge; a Russian ice-breaker; and hundreds of people including reporters who covered the charade. Not to be outdown, President Ronald Reagan appears on TV telling rescue workers that our "hearts are with you and our prayers are also with you."
The National Marine Fisheries biologist coordinating the rescue remarked "This is completely out of proportion."