PODCASTEnvironmentally Speaking EP 88: Whale Mortality and Offshore Wind

July 14, 20230

CLARICE: All right.  Hello, everybody.  Welcome to this week’s episode of Environmentally Speaking.

MARISA:  Hi, everybody.  I’m Marisa Desautel, an environmental attorney.

CLARICE:  And I’m Clarice.  Usually I come in with questions, comments, and topics, but this week it’s even better.  I’m coming with a special guest.  I’m here with Bob Rocha, an associate curator of science and research.

MARISA:  I think it’s Rocha.

CLARICE:  Rocha.  Oh, no.

MARISA:  Bob, you should know that Clarice has many talents.


MARISA:  Reading aloud is —

CLARICE:  Not even close.

MARISA:  — not one of them.

BOB:  And she should know because it’s a Portuguese name.

MARISA:  Oh, there’s no excuse.

CLARICE:  Fired.  Fired from my own [inaudible].

MARISA:  Yeah.  Do you want to log off and me and Bob can continue on?

CLARICE:  Yeah.  Bob, take over.  It is now the Marisa and Bob podcast.  I’m done.

BOB:  Everybody gets a mulligan.

CLARICE:  Well, thank you, Bob, for joining us.  We are very excited to have you join us and  mea culpa for the last name, but we’re really happy to have you come and talk to us about all things whales.

BOB:  Yeah.  Thank you for the invitation to be here.

MARISA:  I’m particularly excited because my office deals with offshore wind projects and one of the most prominent issues that has come out of these projects from my clients’ perspective are the whale deaths that we’re seeing as a result of the offshore wind activity.  That’s kind of the position that I’ve heard, so I’m excited to hear what your opinion is on that.

BOB:  Yeah.  There’s certainly lots of threads or hypotheses to why this is taking place.  Yeah.  I think it’s important to remember that this unusual mortality event in which an unusual number of whales are dying started happening in — or was labeled in such in 2016 before any kind of sighting, testing, those kinds of activities were taking place.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  And we can also keep in mind that because we’ve done a good job of protecting certain species, especially the humpback whale and ten of the 14 recognized populations of humpbacks around the planet have been taken off the endangered species list, so we are mere whales.  And the fact that the ocean’s warming up a little more quickly than it had been in terms of like when certain temps hit at certain latitudes, if the food is coming up earlier the whales are starting to follow, so we may have more — so there’s more whales.  There are more whales slightly earlier in the year because these are migratory animals.  Baleen whales have fairly predictable migrations.  And then there’s all this shipping along the going.  It’s a recipe for animals to get harmed in.

[0:03:14] MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  Quite a few of the necropsies that have been done for these whales have shown blunt force trauma, some sort of collision with ships.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  There are some I haven’t seen the results, or the results haven’t been published, so, you know, it’s hard to know what’s killed those.  I think it’s too easy for certain people to just blame it on sighting of turbines and you certainly can’t blame it on the turbines and the platforms because they’re not there yet.  You can’t blame it on something, you know, that doesn’t exist, but I noticed that those that are screaming the loudest to blame it on the turbines and say, let’s stop, let’s reexamine, are well-funded by the petroleum industry which is ironic in some regards because they’re also some of the folks that are investing money in offshore wind.

MARISA:  Yeah.  So I appreciate the immediate clear understanding of the species itself.  Bob, would you say that you’d consider yourself an expert?  And if so could you give us a little background about why you might be an expert?

BOB:  An expert on what?

MARISA:  Whales and where you’re working and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.

BOB:  I would say I’ve become very well versed on the questions that people ask a lot because I work here at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, been here almost 19 years.


BOB:  You know, I’m mostly involved in education here, but I’ve become a part of our curatorial department as of a couple years ago.  And an exhibit we opened in 2018 right in our lobby was designed to answer the questions people ask.  They’ll walk in.  They see three really big skeletons, blows their minds because these things are so big.  You’ve got a 60-foot blue whale and a 49-foot North Atlantic right whale and a 37-foot humpback whale and it leads to a lot of questions whether the front desk gets the questions, my coworkers get them, the volunteers that are here get them.  And they all get passed along and eventually I’m the one who has to either answer them or provide the information to the [inaudible] and the front desk to answer them.  And we decided let’s make an entire exhibit to answer those.

And there are certainly an extra focus on the North Atlantic right whale because it’s such a highly endangered species and also because we host the annual meeting of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium just about every year.  If it’s not here it’s usually up in Nova Scotia.  And I think the other thing that I’ve become really well versed on is industrial whaling in the 1900s because I co-authored a paper with a couple of others about the number of whales killed in the 1900s by industrial whaling.  So, you know, the factory ships mechanized vessels as opposed to the vessels that sailed out of this harbor until 1925.  You know, we consider that Yankee whaling, whaling under sail, all wind and muscle power as opposed to diesel power which is industrial whaling.  I hope that answers the question.

[0:06:49] MARISA:  Yes.

BOB:  Okay.

MARISA:  It definitely does, yeah.  Thank you.  You said 19 years.

BOB:  Just about, yeah.

MARISA:  That’s a long time.

BOB:  Yeah.  A, I never expected to work in a museum and I never thought I’d be here for 19 years and I think one of the reasons I’m here is because this place keeps me curious.  Like I haven’t left because I learn something new every day.

MARISA:  Every day.  That’s amazing.

BOB:  Just about every day.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  And then I get to do cool stuff like podcasts and TV interviews and radio interviews.  And as I was discussing with Clarice earlier, it’s also been a good excuse to improve my Portuguese because I work with some folks who speak Portuguese.

MARISA:  Nice.

BOB:  And I joined the Azorean Maritime Heritage Society here and we own three Azorean whale boats and, you know, we get to expand that culture, as well.  You know, and I’ll just throw in that’s another important thread in this museum is the fact that we not only discuss and show whale skeletons, talk about whale biology and conservation, but this culture, history, and art, here, as well, because the whaling industry went all around the world and brought all kinds of culture and art back and just really interesting things here and there’s always something new to learn.

MARISA:  I was going to ask can you give us an example?

BOB:  Of something new that I learned?


CLARICE:  I like that question.

BOB:  Good example would be when I first started here there were four known species of this worm called Osedax.  Osedax is this thing that lands on whales that have sunk to the bottom and these worms, these things that actually are able to dissolve the oil and whale bones, there were four known species and since I’ve been here I think there’s now 23 because the researchers are able to get down mostly using either ROVs, you know, remotely operated vehicles or an autonomous underwater vehicle with camera and they take pictures, or they take samples back and they’re able to learn about these really interesting things that break down dead whales.

[0:09:22] MARISA:  You know, that makes a lot of sense.  If something dies in the ocean, it’s not going to float to the surface.  It’s got to go somewhere, so of course as an ecosystem that makes a lot of sense.  So there’s 23?

BOB:  At least, yes.

MARISA:  At least.

CLARICE:  Wow.  I just looked them up.

BOB:  Yeah.  It’s called O-s-e-d-a-x.  It means bone devourer.

CLARICE:  Apparently they’re also known as zombie worms.

BOB:  Zombie worms and bone-eating snot flower and other lovely names.


MARISA:  What?  That’s disgusting.

CLARICE:  All right.  Listeners, you have to look them up.  They look very psychedelic.

BOB:  And those red things that you see on them are typically their gills.

MARISA:  How big are these?

CLARICE:  They look really small.

BOB:  I think they’re all different sizes, but I don’t know that they get too big.

MARISA:  Are we talking inches or feet?

BOB:  Inches.

MARISA:  Okay.

BOB:  Yeah.

MARISA:  That’s like a nightmare if it’s longer than that.

BOB:  It’s not like those deep sea tube worms.  Those things are feet tall.

MARISA:  Yeah.  Yeah.

BOB:  Yeah.   And another thing that I learned as the result of my paper is that in the 1900s we killed 2,894,040 whales and those are the ones that we know about and those are the big species.  And that paper doesn’t include orcas, other dolphin species, beaked whales, porpoises.  It’s just the big whales.

MARISA:  How did they die?  How were they killed?

BOB:  They were caught by diesel powered ships and for a while they were processed at sea, or they were dragged across to a shore factory.  But then starting in 1925 — I think ’24, the first floating factory ship was created and you could bring — so the diesel catcher boat would go get the whale, bring it back to the factory ship and then they would just pull this whale up the slipway out of the ocean and then the entire whale would disappear.  They would just turn it into a whole variety of products.


BOB:  And so because Yankee whaling, again, wind and muscle power, could basically catch the three species of right whale, bowhead whale, humpback, and sperm and occasionally like pilot whales and gray whales, too, the whales that were slow enough for dudes rowing to be able to catch, they really didn’t go after blue, fin, sei, minke, Bryde’s whales.  So when factory ships started, they were dealing with full on populations.

[0:12:15] CLARICE:  Uh-huh.

BOB:  So in the early days of going after those species, they were killing thousands.

CLARICE:  And it sounds like it wasn’t just an issue of speed, but it was also the idea of if it’s — like you were saying, these Yankee boats.  It was also the idea of once these people caught the whales all of the men who were powering the boat then had to stop powering the boat to process what they’ve caught.

BOB:  And that was after they had rowed the whale back to the ship.  So you got the same crew of people hunting, rowing it back.  And if there had only been one boat in the water, then there were other men on the ship that could take over the process of flensing and trying out the whale, but it was still — it was all human power and complex machines doing all the work, whereas with the factory ships it was all mechanized.  And I remember one quote as I was working on the paper from a publication.  This was from like the 1930s.  A guy from the Coast Guard had been on a ship as a spotter and he said, yeah, they could take a 90-foot whale and make it disappear in 90 minutes.

MARISA:  Does anyone else get upset about that, or is it just me?

CLARICE:  I’m a little afraid.

BOB:  It’s mind-blowing, you know, to think about how quickly we were pulling these, you know, just populations of whales out of the ocean.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  And it was obviously, you know, for economics and it took a while for people — it took decades to realize we’re just going to like totally obliterate all these species.  And so even when the International Whaling Commission started in the ‘40s it was created not to protect the whales but to protect the industry.  Like how can we do this sustainably so the industry can continue.  Its focus has changed over the years.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  Like 1931, I think, the whaling nations — all right, we’re going to stop going after bowhead whales.  In ’35 they decided, okay, we’re going to stop going after right whales.  In ’66 it was blue whales.  I think ’65 were humpbacks and there have been some others.  I think in the early ‘70s gray whales.  And I don’t know that it was much of an economic harm to them to stop going after those species because I think they really weren’t finding any of them anyway.  And as I found out in the research I was doing with my two co-authors that the soviets especially were lying about what they were catching.

[0:15:08] MARISA:  No.

BOB:  They would say, we got this —

MARISA:  Get out.

BOB:  — of these things when it was — like they’d say, it was this number of humpbacks in there, so you’re getting fin and sei whales and other things they weren’t supposed to be catching and they were killing undersized and all of that.

MARISA:  What is the name of the article that you authored?  And if our listeners wanted to read it, where could they find it?

BOB:  So it’s called Emptying the Oceans; A Summary of Industrial Whaling Catches in the 20th Century and it’s published in NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Review in 2014.

MARISA:  Okay.

CLARICE:  I’m going to write that down.

MARISA:  I was going to say, Clarice, maybe drop that into the show notes if you can.


MARISA:  Yeah.  Great.

BOB:  And my co-authors who have much more experience with this, especially Yulia because she’s originally from like an hour away from Moscow, so not only does she understand whaling, she understands the language.

MARISA:  Yeah.  That’s helpful.

BOB:  And she was able to communicate with several Russian biologists who were on these ships and kept accurate records at risk to their own lives while they had another set of books for what was going to get reported to the International Whaling Commission.  So Yulia and Phil had these conversations with these people.  It’s pretty impressive what they were able to do.  And there’s a movie called  The Witness is a Whale and I know some of those interviews are in that movie, too.

CLARICE:  The Witness is a Whale.

BOB:  Yes.

CLARICE:  I’m going to write that down, too.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  And the two folks who made that Nick and Cheryl, D-e-a-n, Dean came out here and I interviewed with them for hours and unfortunately all of it got cut and it didn’t make the movie, but, you know, what the finished product is for the film is really, really good.  You know, they interviewed Phil.  They interviewed Yulia and they interviewed a couple of these — at least one of these Russian biologists and, you know, that helps to tell a story about industrial whale hunting.

MARISA:  And if there is any particular message that you would want our listeners to know about the museum and the work that you’re doing every day, what would it be?

BOB:  I’ll say a couple of things.  I probably said this 500 times.  The museum suffers from its name, New Bedford Whaling Museum, because we’re much more about whaling and dead whales and dead people.  You know, really it’s arts, history, science, and culture and I think we do a great job of not only using the science to talk about what’s happening now and get out a conservation message, but the history part of what we tell, you know, the arts, the history, and the culture as they tie into not only the whaling industry but also the region because we started in 1903 as the old Dartmouth Historical Society with the biggest story being whaling.  I would say that if you want to learn about a variety of things come to New Bedford Whaling Museum.  People walk out of here pleasantly surprised 99 percent of the time.

Now, we had one review from one family that looked up and saw the skeletons and felt very sad and left.  I can understand that, but I will say that the skeletons we have did not come to us as the result of the whaling industry.  Two of them were ship strikes, recent, you know, one 1998, one 2004.  The sperm whale was in a different gallery.  We don’t know why he died, but he washed ashore in Nantucket in 2002.  He may have had decompression sickness.  And then the humpback skeleton, that one’s from 1932.  He was a young one.  He was only three years old and we’re not sure why he died either.  Although, there was one clue and it was his tongue was missing and there is a species of dolphin that likes to rip out the tongue of its victims.

[0:19:29] MARISA:  Come on.  What?

BOB:  The orca.

MARISA:  Dolphins are like so sweet.

BOB:  But orcas are the largest species of dolphin and that’s one hint that they’ve been around.  They like to rip the — there’s a whole lot of muscle —

MARISA:  That’s awful.

BOB:  — and meat and energy and there’s no bone in the way, right.

MARISA:  Oh, Bob, that’s gross.

BOB:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  What a great story.

BOB:  I know.

MARISA:  It’s a dolphin delicacy.

BOB:  Yeah.  And you know what, and we don’t see orcas out here much.  It was a big deal three or four weeks ago that there were four orcas seen off Nantucket.  There was a whale watch boat or a charter fishing boat out there and there were, you know, four of them swimming across in a line like, you know, as if they’re lined up to run a race or swim a race swimming along.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  We rarely see them out here.


BOB:  They’re around every once in a while.  And this one, I think it’s been nicknamed Old Tom who will just show up.

CLARICE:  Anybody have any tongues?

BOB:  Hmm?

CLARICE:  Does anybody have any tongues, just like little souvenir in the fin?

MARISA:  Bob, that just made me think of what we started this conversation with where you were saying you’ve been there for 19 years because you learn something new every day.


MARISA:  You just taught us two things in 30 minutes about — I had no idea that dolphins were so brutal.

CLARICE:  Oh, yeah.

BOB:  Well, at least that one species.  In many ways dolphins [inaudible].

CLARICE:  Haven’t you ever heard of the book, why you want to punch a dolphin in the face?

BOB:  Say that again, Clarice.

CLARICE:  I was going to say haven’t you guys ever heard of the book — I think it’s called reasons why you should punch a dolphin or something like that?

MARISA:  No, I have not heard of it.

CLARICE:  I will send it to you.

MARISA:  Okay.

BOB:  Yeah.  They can be jerks.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  And there’s, what, 35 or 37 species of dolphin and then there’s the four river dolphins.


MARISA:  What is a river dolphin?

BOB:  A river dolphin is one of these — like some people call them pink dolphins.


BOB:  And they have very long beaks with lots of little sharp teeth and tiny little eyes.

CLARICE:  [inaudible].

BOB:  They’re often in muddy water, so they really rely, you know, on their ability to echolocate to find their food and, you know, they’re not that big and they don’t really have a dorsal fin so much as they have a hump, like a ridge —

MARISA:  Okay.

BOB:  — so they don’t roll over.  And since I started here, there was one species that’s been declared functionally extinct and that was the one in the Yangtze River.  It was called the baiji, b-a-i-j-i.  And in 1980, I think, they knew about like 400 of them in the river and by 2004, 2006 they couldn’t find any.  You know, and it’s pollution.

[0:22:37] MARISA:  Yeah.  Human interference.

BOB:  Accidental kills, purposeful kills, misuse of the habitat, all those things.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  So I do have to circle back.

BOB:  Okay.

CLARICE:  Earlier when we were talking you had said that there was a myth about the right whale’s name.

BOB:  Yes.

CLARICE:  And it sounds like a personal mission to dispel that myth.  What is the myth?

BOB:  Okay.

CLARICE:  I need to know.

BOB:  The myth is that the right whale is called the right whale because it was the right whale to hunt because they live close to the coast and they’re slow and they’re so blubbery that when you kill them they float and, you know, that helps you with your turning the whale into money.  And I have to say I have a coworker here who’s done more reading on this than I have and he’s the one who’s dragged me into it willfully, by the way.  So if you go back and you think about the name right whale — the bowhead whale used to be referred to as the Greenland right whale.  The North Atlantic right whale used to be referred to as the black right whale.  The scientific name Eubalaena glacialis means true whale or right whale.

CLARICE:  Is there any wrong whales?

BOB:  And that’s the scientific name for the right whale.  Yeah.  Those are the ones that get hit by the boats, but they do badly on news quizzes.  And really the right part of it had much more to do with the baleen in their mouths.  This was the right whale to hunt for commercial purposes because of the baleen.  So bowhead whales can be enormous like 60, 65 feet long and tall enough that the baleen that’s in their mouth is like 14 feet tall.

MARISA:  Oh, my God.

BOB:  Because humpbacks and blue whales and fin whales, they have like flat upper jaws, whereas the three species of right whale and the bowhead, their upper jaw is arched.  So think of it as like half of a McDonald’s sign.  And because they are arched, there’s more room in the mouth and it’s just, you know, the shape of the animal.  And they don’t have dorsal fins which is a major problem for them with not being seen because they come up to breathe or to feed near the surface and there’s no fin visible.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  But these animals — so the bowhead baleen could be, you know, 12, 13, 14 feet tall and it was considered a better quality than right whale baleen for the market and this was back before people invented plastic.  You know, baleen is basically mother nature’s plastic because it’s flexible and pliable and you can use it in corsets and hoop skirt frames and collar stiffeners and whips, mattresses, all kinds of interesting things, goggles, umbrellas, parasols.

So the right part of the right whale refers as much to the baleen as it does to anything else.  And, yes, right whales are found near the coast and they’re blubbery and, you know, so are bowheads, at least in terms of blubbery.  Bowhead’s more likely to float than a right whale.  Like if you look at the logs of going after North Pacific right whales especially in the 1800s between 1840 and 1880 when we almost wiped them out a lot of these animals sank.  They may refloat later once gases start to build up as they’re starting to decompose.

[0:26:38] CLARICE: Uh-huh.

BOB: But they didn’t always float.  And once you harpooned one, they respond really violently and there’s nothing right about that for a guy who’s in a 30-foot boat.  You ask people that are working on current disentanglement of whales and they all say trying to disentangle a humpback is a whole lot easier than trying to disentangle a right whale because the right whales get really skittish and they don’t respond well to getting enclosed with the zodiac.  So all that together, calling them the right whale for all those other reasons really doesn’t work.  The right part of it had to do with the fact that they had baleen and they were the right ones to get for the market.  And it’s more attributable to bowhead whales than it is to right whales.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  Because in other parts of the world they’re the nordcaper.  They have all these other names that I don’t even remember because they’re foreign words.  Portuguese baleia Franca is how you would call a right whale.

MARISA:  Clarice has a big smile on her face right now.

CLARICE:  I’m just giggling.  I just love —

BOB:  And the bowhead in Portuguese is either baleia arctica or baleia polar because I know the polar bear is ursa polar.  Yeah.  And we just had an exhibit here on —

CLARICE:  Polar whale —

BOB:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  — basically.  I just love the word whale in Portuguese.

BOB:  Baleia.

CLARICE:  Baleia.

BOB:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  Like it just sounds goofy.

BOB:  Except for sperm whale is —

CLARICE:  I don’t know that one.

BOB:  It’s cachalot.  And that’s almost the same as the French word.  The French put an E on the end of it.  The German word for whale is better.  It’s wal.  Like the sperm whale is the pottwal.

CLARICE:  That just sounds angry which doesn’t surprise us as Germans.

BOB:  It’s a whole other topic.

MARISA:  Yeah.  For another day.

BOB:  Speaking of myths, can I get at one other thing?  And it’s more of a mislabeling or it’s like let’s call it this because it will grab people’s attention.  And that’s when someone like a lobsterman or a fisherman ends up in a whale’s mouth and they say, oh, it got swallowed.  It didn’t get swallowed.  Whoever ends up in the whale’s mouth is in the whale’s mouth, but it didn’t go down the throat because there’s only one whale with a throat big enough to swallow a person and that’s a sperm whale.  So I love to tell groups, you know, especially if there’s like ten, 12 people.  I said, okay, if we were all — like we could all have this conversation in a blue whale’s mouth and it couldn’t swallow any of us because the blue whale’s throat’s only the size of a basketball.


BOB:  Because they’re eating small food.

[0:29:36] MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  They don’t need to have a huge throat, whereas sperm whales are eating squid —

CLARICE:  Okay.  That makes sense.

BOB:  — that might be three, four, five, ten feet long.  And contrary to popular belief, sperm whale don’t just eat giant squid.  They’ll eat whatever squid’s available and there’s 300 species of squid in the ocean.  See, that’s one of those things that I learned while here on the job that there are 300 different species of squid.  And like with the white whales —

CLARICE:  Does the person never leave the mouth?

BOB:  Hmm?

CLARICE:  If a person goes into a whale’s mouth — first off, stay on land.  If a person goes into a whale’s mouth —

MARISA:  What happens?

CLARICE:  — do they just never leave the mouth?

BOB:  No.  They get spit back out.

CLARICE:  No.  No.  No.  I mean, eventually because they’re telling the story.  But like do they just like roll under the tongue for a minute?

BOB:  I hope not.

CLARICE:  Where are they hanging out?

BOB:  They’re probably sitting on top of the tongue just, you know, probably, you know, like holding onto the baleen so their feet don’t get stuck in the throat.  I don’t know, but, you know.

MARISA:  Wait.  This is a real like thing?  This happens?

CLARICE:  Yes.  Yes.  You’ve never heard this story?


BOB:  Just off the coast — if it wasn’t last summer it was 2021.


BOB:  A guy was fishing and he ended up in a humpback whale’s mouth.


BOB:  And he got coughed back up.  And there was a couple of kayakers just a month or two ago off the west coast, I think, ended up in a —

MARISA:  That’s wild.

BOB:  — humpback’s mouth, but the whale can’t swallow these people.

CLARICE:  I talked about this for days.

MARISA:  Wow.  No.  I’d never heard that.

BOB:  I remember reading that a full grown blue whale’s mouth, like when you expand out the throat plates it’s big enough to hold two full grown elephants.


BOB:  So when those throats expand the volume of water in that throat is equal to the volume of the whale itself.


BOB:  But then they use those throat muscles to push all the water through the baleen and out so they can just swallow the krill, in the case of the right whales the copepods.

CLARICE:  Oh, my God.  And the throat is only a basketball.

BOB:  Yeah.  For a blue whale.  And, actually, one of the little tools we have — when we got school groups coming through we have this cardboard ring and they wrote like blue whale throat diameter and we’ll put it over a kid’s head, but it doesn’t go past the shoulders.

CLARICE:  Well, Bob, I have my new nightmare.

BOB:  Huh?

CLARICE:  This is my new nightmare.

MARISA:  I’m going to have to come check this museum out.  This place sounds awesome.

BOB:  And we take up a whole city block, too.  We have like 22, 23 galleries.

MARISA:  Yeah.  I’ve been by it.

BOB:  Yeah.

MARISA:  I’ve been by it.

BOB:  Yeah.

MARISA:  So are you there seven days a week, Monday through Friday?  What’s your schedule?

[0:32:26] BOB:  My schedule is typically during the week, you know, typically the weekdays, but we’re open seven days a week.  In the winter we’ll close on Mondays in January, February, and March.

MARISA:  Yeah.  Okay.   And for all of you Moby Dick enthusiasts, we do a nonstop 25-hour reading of Moby Dick on the first weekend in January that doesn’t involve January 1st or 2nd and that’s because when Herman Melville sailed out of this harbor in 1841 he sailed out January 3rd, 1841, on the first voyage of the whale ship Acushnet.  And his experiences there and his experiences talking to other people including the grandson of Owen Chase who was on the Essex when that got rammed and sunk by a whale in 1820 led to him writing Moby Dick which was not a very popular book when it came out and now it’s insanely popular.

MARISA:  Yeah.  Yeah.

BOB:  And we have, again, 25 hours nonstop, people five or ten-minute blocks of time reading the book.  And, Clarice, we also do a Portuguese mini marathon of about four hours.

CLARICE:  How many times can you hear baleia?

BOB:  Oh, you know, no.  I have it right here.  I’ve got the Portuguese full version of it, but we also commissioned — we meaning the like two previous Portuguese consoles to New Bedford commissioned an artist to cut Moby Dick down into three hours and 45 minutes and then we read that.  Like everybody gets a five-minute piece of the book and we just — one after another reading in Portuguese.

CLARICE:  There we go.  No descriptions.

BOB:  No.  And we zoom in with people in Fial, Lisboa, [inaudible], and [inaudible].

CLARICE:  Very cool.

BOB:  And we turn off the audio and we just keep the video on.  So call me Ishmael in Portuguese [inaudible].

CLARICE:  Well, listeners, you can join New Bedford Whaling Museum in two languages.

BOB:  Yes.

CLARICE:  I love this.  Well, Bob, thank you so much.  I’ve got new nightmares.  I’ve learned new facts.  I don’t think I’m going to ever learn how to swim.  It was on my bucket list.

BOB:  Oh, you should.

CLARICE:  I don’t know about that.

BOB:  I don’t know.

[0:34:57] MARISA:  Stay on land, Clarice.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  I’m going to stay on land.

MARISA:  You got enough problems.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  This podcast has renewed new fears in me of chickens and the ocean.

BOB:  Did you say chickens?

CLARICE:  Oh, yeah.  That was another podcast episode.

MARISA:  Yeah.

BOB:  Oh.  Oh, okay.

CLARICE:  It’s a long story.

MARISA:  Yeah, it is.  Bob, thank you so much for your time.  I really enjoyed chatting with you and I will absolutely —

BOB:  Same here.

MARISA:  — come and visit and I will ask if you are available to say hello.

BOB:  Please do.

MARISA:  Thanks again.

CLARICE:  This was fantastic.  Thank you so much.

BOB:  Thank you for the opportunity.

CLARICE:  All right.  If you have any questions, comments, want to tell us what you’ve learned from this episode, write in at Help@DesautelESQ.com.  We are on the socials at Desautel Browning Law on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.  You can catch our videos on YouTube.  Thank you so much.

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