Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pygmy Sperm Whale...

The Point Pleasant First Aid Dive Team has had some very interesting
activities in the recent years. This story ranks high among their
finest rescues. Here is the report.

At 1530 hours on May 15, 2010 the Point Pleasant First Aid Dive Team
was dispatched to Mantoloking Beach to aid a beached whale. The day was
beautiful. Not a cloud was in the sky, air temps were in the high 70's,
and a mild wind was blowing out of the west. Conditions at the shore
were excellent and if not for this call, divers would have considered
an ocean dive. When duty calls the dive team responds in numbers and
effect. This day was one of those days.

Assistant chief, Flo Melo, and Tom Conroy had gotten alerted earlier
and were already on scene. Chief diver, Chet Nesley, was called and he
notified the squad where Tom Gormley made the call to dispatch the dive
team on Chet's order. All team members were notified to go directly to
1073 Route 35 south in Mantoloking, the roadway site of the call. Dave
Gibson and Norva Gormley drove 342 to the site. Tom G loaded 347 with
the requested gear and drove to the site. First Aid Captain, Jerry
Meaney, drove 340 to the site as well.

On scene Flo and Tom C were attending the whale with the aid of several
local residents and beach goers. They had gotten the whale carefully
situated on the edge of the surf on the up[hill berm to relieve as much
stress as they could. Flo called immediately for a stokes basket from
Jerry M, while Tom G delivered dry suits to the site and donned his own
for immediate water assistance. Doug and Tom C also donned dry suits.
The water was still only in the high 40 degree range and people were
standing in the cold water assisting the whale for many minutes
already. Fortunately waves were only in the 1 to 2 foot range due to
the westerly winds.

The Mantoloking Fire Department and Police Department was called and
would arrive momentarily. The US Coast Guard was on alert and standing
by. Meanwhile members of the dive team were arriving and this was a
success of the E-dispatch system. Doug Hatch and Paul DeSalvo from the
team had been E-dispatched.

Meanwhile the whale was being supported and protected from incoming
waves and was physically moved onto the stokes basket with a mighty
effort of all involved. Children in the area were asked to name the
female whale which was identified as a Pygmy sperm whale according to
Flo, Tom C, and Chet who are also members of the Marine Mammal
Stranding Center, which is located in Brigantine. The children named
the whale Suzie. We all were doing our utmost to save and comfort Suzie
in her time of need. There is no doubt that humans feel a definite
attraction and need to assist at a time like this. Except for a police
officer, all of those involved were non paid but professional
volunteers and requested local residents.

With the arrival of the Fire Dept, we were gaining manpower to be able
to do some heavy lifting. The plan was to move Suzie off the beach so
she could eventually be placed on a large box truck coming from the
MMSC and off to their center for care. A plan was developed and
actuated to first slide Suzie off the berm onto level sand and then to
lift her onto the bed of the town's pickup. Suzie was 9 feet long and
weighed approximately 600 pounds. Moving her was done purely by human
muscle and it succeeded nicely. The pickup needed a pull from a bobcat
tractor to make it off the beach and again manpower lifted Suzie onto
the MMSC's truck.

A loud cheer was finally made to the satisfaction of a growing crowd of
interested and supporting onlookers. This was a job well done out of
love and admiration for our fellow creatures that live so close to us
in our Atlantic Ocean. A big thank you goes to all who participated and
assisted. The dive team could not have done the job alone though they
were a strong reason for the success.

Several local and statewide media services came to the scene and
interviewed Flo and Chet on behalf of the dive team. We made news in a
very favorable way today.

The call was completed at 1820 hours and the team completed cleaning
gear by 2030 hours. It was a long day. The sad news is that Suzie
succumbed to her condition on the way to Brigantine despite our efforts
to keep her wet, cool, and protected from sunlight. We had done our
best and would do this again in a Point Pleasant heartbeat.

Report by Tom Gormley for the Pt Pleasant First Aid Dive team

Local media coverage here...
and here...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Ring Recovery....

On Friday night, April 30, 2010, the Dive Team received an underwater Search and Recovery request from one of the town's Police Detectives. A couple, while working around their boat at Kingsbridge Marina, reported a missing purse. The woman had placed it on the cover of their dock box, but a wind blew the cover open, flinging the small purse into the water. Chief Nesley, Paul, and Dave went in at 10 pm to sweep under the dock to search for the purse. The divers had about 10 feet of visibility, but with the darkness and swiftly moving current, the object was not recovered.

We returned on Saturday morning with Chet, Dave, Milton, and Sue. This time, the boat owners met us at the dock and we were able to get a first-hand account of how, where, and when the item went missing. Most importantly, we learned that the tide was outgoing at the time of the loss (we had previously been told incoming), and that the brick-size purse had a ring of keys in it. This allowed us to better plan a search area, considering water movement, bottom composition, and how quickly the object should have sank.

Milton and Sue began their search by stringing a line between the dock (right under the boat) over to the railroad bridge to the east, with both ends anchored. They used this for visual reference to sweep back and forth, covering a large patch of real estate where the purse should have headed when it was lost. Meanwhile, Chet and Dave conducted an intensive search under the bridge itself; if the tide did bring the purse this far, the jumbled bottom structure and debris there would have likely snagged any rolling object.

After about a half hour of fruitless searching by both teams, Milton and Sue changed course to recheck around the dock and to the west. Lucky for Sue, she had trouble clearing one of her ears! Normally, that's not a lucky event, but her delayed descent dropped her down separated from Milton. While she was getting her bearings to decide whether to pursue her partner or sweep under an adjacent dock on her own, SHE LANDED ON THE PURSE.

All four divers regrouped and headed back to the truck, appearing to call it quits. The couple saw us ungearing and wanted to know how things went. Chief Nesley had some Good News and some Bad News for them. He gave them the Bad News first: "From this dock to the OTHER side of the bridge, it's not there." Then the Good News: "It was right over there, ten feet away from your boat." Roseann was ecstatic, so much so that she didn't think twice about giving bear hugs to four soaking wet divers. Her purse was soaked, but it had been zippered shut, so nothing had been lost. Even the ChapStick survived!