Last updated: 11/28/16
Posted on Facebook
as a Public Statement
by Matthew Keeley
"I'm the first of the Rescue Group to post a public statement against The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation asked for volunteers so the Watermen from Long Island Spearfishing, Long Island Surf casting, and other individuals that make their living In the Moriches Bay came together and answered the call for help.
We rounded up a dedicated crew of 7 boats from 50ft with pumps and hoses, to 20+ divers within 24 hours. We reached out to Military Rescue Specialist that referenced us to a plan that worked in a similar situation with 2 sperm whales in the Netherlands.
I Took all of this information, Resources, and Plan and sent it in to the The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation multiple times. The beautiful thing about modern technology is that I can see you read our messages multiple times and did not respond. However you were very fast to untag yourselves from the video of us on location with the hoses and pumps to save this whale and Authorities would not allow us to move forward 50 yards to get it done.
Your response is that you're "monitoring the situation". Well let me tell you that when your representative was interviewed on News 12 Long Island, His stuttering and inability to explain what "Monitoring and Stress' meant sounded so stupid that they cut that down to a 2 second clip and threw it in the loop with citizens standing by trying to make a plan. Guess what stresses any living thing out more than Human Contact? Knowing it's going to Die, crying out for help, and not getting any. That whale was going to be stressed until the moment your Euthanizing works whether we like it or not.
Let me throw a little fact at you that we don't need a Degree in Marine Biology or Government funding to figure out... There is a whale that is stuck on a sandbar for no other reason than it followed its food source into the bay. A bunch of boaters than chased it trying to get a cellphone video and pushed it further into shallow water. So to negate the normal defense that we would use as Hunters and Fisherman of "Nature Runs It's Course" is a load of bullshit in this case. The animal was not sick until you let it stay on that sand bar for more than 24hours. That animal was not in distress outside of human contact. Humans are the reason he got into that situation and we were perfectly capable of getting him out.
Now in your defense, Allowing every single soft hearted person with a boat come running to the whales rescue would only make the situation worse. However you were sent an organized breakdown of what we had and what we could do and I know you saw it. If you cannot fulfill your duty to protect than allow us to do it. You are funded so that things like this do not happen. When one of the guys called earlier there was an instant answer for the "Donation Hotline" but could not track down anyone for info about the whale.
We as a large network of Waterman have the clout and the ability to get the job done. If you cannot or have your hands tied then reach out to the community that funds you. The Federal Law PROTECTS the species and you did not allow anyone to protect. We are now watching live as you roll this whale over and Kill it with and Needle. Before you say it, we know "its health was too far gone and it would not have made it even if we freed it". Well here's your reality check. It's been there since Sunday and it is now Wednesday. The only reason that Whale got this bad was because you stood by and "monitored it". If you would have made an attempt to free it 2 days ago when we organized than the situation may have been very different. Even if the whale did not survive after efforts were successful days ago, at least the community knows we would have tried.
3 organized attempts were made, the largest yesterday afternoon consists of a video. Of the boat crew presenting all of their Hoses and Pumps, Straps and Buoys, and the DEC saying we still weren't allowed to Help. So before you tell us it would do more harm than good.. We were fully aware that a humpback whale cannot be towed by it's tale without breaking cartilage. We were fully aware that a whale cannot be touched under federal law.. So explain to the community of Long Island why we were not allowed to stand in our wetsuits in the freezing cold NEXT to a whale and gently and quietly remove the sand from behind it so it could slide back into the channel at high tide. No contact with the whale necessary.. Standing on a sandbar is not a federal crime. There are a bunch of kids that love Atlantis Marine World that do not understand why they just watched a Whale cry out for help through 5 days and are now watching it be killed without anyone being allowed to help it.
The Watermen of Long Island know Channels and Clam pools that are not marked on your charts through that area. You failed to use the resources that were presented to you and that you are funded for.
We would formally like to let the community and those in charge to know that if this is to happen again. There is an organized group of volunteers with the resources, clout, and knowledge to get the job done safely and efficiently. We would have liked to work with the authorities and organizations in charge. We are here to work together with you for any future incidents. How you choose to go about this incident and the communities questions will define your credibility for future incidents and donations across the region.
Let's all learn our lessons this time.. because a Magnificent Creature just died. Not because of nature or after our best efforts, but our lack of."
Failure is not an option." -
On Facebook page:
"The Riverhead Foundation responds to marine mammal strandings under the authority of NOAA and the guidelines of the NMFS Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. From the time the whale initially stranded, NOAA consulted closely with the Riverhead Foundation and a team of experts nationwide who have prior experience with stranded whales."
"Although several possible rescue methods were explored, it was determined that the risk of causing severe damage to the animal, together with the unlikelihood of success, made any of these possible rescue efforts too dangerous and not in the animal's best interests. The experts' initial recommendation was to do no further harm and allow several tidal cycles for the whale to free itself during the deeper water of high tide.In unique and unusual stranding situations such as the Moriches Bay whale, the Riverhead Foundation, as well as state and local agencies, are all compelled to defer to NOAA's authority on any actions taken."
In Following NOAA protocols
"The whale was doomed as soon as it came in. As soon as the first low tide hit the gravitational damage probably set in. It was too dangerous for both the whale and the people to come in and dig out a sand bar which had a very unlikely chance of helping. The whale most like would have turned over and drown or fell in the hole being dug. An if it was freed it would have likely stranded again... The ONLY thing could have to done differently in this whole very sad situation, would have been to euthanize it a lot quicker. ... An if there was a way to help it I would have been up in the water right there diggin with my hands ..." a former RF coworker
The Riverhead Foundation is a nonprofit organization who "is the only organization authorized by New York State to rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals and sea turtles." - a concerned citizen
Robert DiGiovanni, who served as the nonprofit's director and senior biologist for more than twenty years, suddenly resigned due to funds "allegedly reallocated to the Long Island Aquarium [a for profit organization], where the Riverhead Foundation is based." "Mr. Bowman said, "the board hopes to fill the position within a month with a manager who specializes in fundraising, rather than someone with a biology background."
Source: Turnover at Riverhead Foundation following alleged board rift by Grant Parpan, Suffolk Times (06/16/16)
Locals only is organized under this Facebook Page, since, March, 2014.
"A fire boat pumper hose concentrated on the sand around where it was laying, or a dredging hose removing the sand beneath where it was laying would have been cost efficient and effective to save its life. Just a shame our government failed .... again."
"No one knows our waters better than our local marine biologists/scientists and professional watermen; knowing this young whale potentially stranded due to the super moon high tide followed by the lower low tides we experienced due to the wind shift, may have lent more validity to the argument that this whale was possibly well at the time of its stranding and had some kind of chance in the very beginning. Locals followed the proper chain of command by notifying the proper authorities, but what if that chain of command was local allowing us to act more quickly?" - Ali BeeGee
Nov 23: Fox 5 NY Coast Guard Station, East Moriches - start listening at 7 minutes in.
Better To Try And Fail Than Never To Try At All
Some say risk nothing, try only for the sure thing,
Others say nothing gambled nothing gained,
Go all out for your dream.
Life can be lived either way, but for me,
I'd rather try and fail, than never try at all, you see.
Some say "Don't ever fall in love,
Play the game of life wide open,
Burn your candle at both ends."
But I say "No! It's better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all, my friend."
When many moons have gone by,
And you are alone with your dreams of yesteryear,
All your memories will bring you cheer.
You'll be satisfied, succeed or fail, win or lose,
Knowing the right path you did choose.
William F. O'Brian
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