WHAT DREW YOU TO THE WATER AT FIRST?
I grew up on the water and I learned to swim underwater before I'd learned to
swim on top, and I had to be constantly yanked out by my parents because I
plunged in and... held my breath and just kept going.
I was diving in Puget Sound very early on. We used long underwear with rubber
bands around our ankles and wool to keep us warm. Later they came out with
what's called the dry suit and you'd climb inside one of those and tie it up,
and that helped a lot. [Then] they came out with a wet suit, and we used those
and they were much more successful.
YOU TOLD ME YOU MADE YOUR FIRST PIECE OF UNDERWATER EQUIPMENT. CAN YOU
Early on, we did make our equipment. We used to go to the surplus stores and
get odds and ends... left over from World War II. For example, the oxygen
masks that were worn by the bomber pilots. They were good for a single dive
and we would grease them up and tie them down and we'd have... either a bag or
a pillow full of air and we'd allow the air to go back into the face mask. And
sometimes you'd have to push the air and regulate it... you'd only be able to
stay underwater a couple of minutes, but it gave us some pretty good down time.
And we could get down to 50 [to] 60 feet that way.
A PILLOW. WAS IT WATERPROOF?
Yeah. Well the pillow was a military pillow, like an army pillow, and we'd rig
it up and grease it up so that it would feed air to the mask. We didn't have
compressed air. Later on, we used... [a] carved out water tank and we... had
bicycle pumps pumping air. And we were gagging and choking but we were
We had tennis shoes with lead tied to them. That's how we dove. If they
stopped pumping, you had to come up very quickly. We didn't know [that] you
couldn't hold your breath and a lot of us unfortunately were coughing blood at
times and didn't understand why... .
WHY WERE YOU COUGHING BLOOD?
Well, when you are [underwater] and you take a breath of compressed air and
then you come up to the surface, the air that you're holding in your lungs
expands. And if you're not releasing the air, it will actually burst your air
sacs in your lungs and cause you to bleed from the lungs. Again, we're talking
[about] renegade children [who] should know better and parents [who] weren't
watching closely enough. I think there's a lot of that today.
WHEN DID ... THAT IDEA OF RIDING ON A KILLER WHALE FIRST COME TO YOU?
[When I was a small child in one] book there was a picture of a boy riding a
dolphin. It was sort of a surrealistic kind of image. But it struck me and I
kind of carried that in my mind. And then as the years went by, some neighbors
[would ride on horseback in the lake near my home.] And it started to grow on
me and I actually believed... that's what I was going to do, and I could see
myself riding a dolphin, if you will.
As the years went by I became fascinated with the whales that were in Puget
Sound but of course they're extremely dangerous... . I lived on the water and
we started following the whales in the boat and then... [we followed them in]
the water. And the whales never seemed to pay much attention. Many times when
[we were] skin diving the whales would come by [and] swim right past the
divers. You'd see them sometimes as a streak. Sometimes they would stop just
for a brief moment at maybe 10 or 20 feet. And I came to understand that they
were not... dangerous. ...[I]n that period of time... I decided I would
attempt to ride one of these whales, later learning that the whale was actually
a dolphin but a very big one, with teeth of course.
BUT PEOPLE DIDN'T HAVE THAT IDEA THEN ABOUT KILLER WHALES.
Well... we're talking in the late 50s and early 60s in the Puget Sound area
and... there are many accounts of the military shooting at the whales, dive
bombing them, dropping bombs on them [and] ...fishermen shooting at whales.
And I became aware of this and I was [told] by anybody that would stand still
long enough to hear my story that there was no chance and [that] I was going to
be instantly killed. But I pursued that idea... and interestingly enough [just
when I]... became acquainted with Namu the public started getting interested in
the killer whale... .
...[W]hen I [brought] Namu to Seattle he was in a cage and he was being
followed by a female and several calves. There was a renegade whale we'll call
it, a rogue of some kind, that kept trying to move the family away from Namu's
pen because they were following very closely. And so we named that whale Oilcan
Harry and said that this rogue whale was trying to steal the family away from
this wonderful Namu. And overnight the public changed their mind and their
attitude and the whale suddenly became equal to --perhaps exceeding-- humans in
lovability and kindness and having a lot of the virtues that we wish some of
the humans we knew had. And if they didn't have those virtues, we gave them to
BEFORE WE GET TO NAMU THOUGH, IF YOU COULD BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER
CHANGES THROUGH THE OWNING [OF] A PET ........
[Growing up] ...I had a wide variety of animals, including a pet gibbon ape
that lived with me at home. And [my friends would come and] never know whether
this ape would be friendly or not ... I would take her to cocktail parties and
she was of course acted very properly. But she would sit in people's laps and
sip their drinks and wander around.
...[I]f you treat these animals with sort of a kindness and respect and don't
shout at them, and if they need correction... [and] you manage it in a firm
way, they become almost human, but they still need to be managed. And so those
are some of my early experience with animals. And I mean of course there were
lions and gorillas and all kinds of other animals... . As years went by, I
became interested in... whales [and] dolphins... . [At the time of the Seattle
World's Fair]... I thought well, what an opportune time to open a public
aquarium, because I had a lot of people visiting my retail store and commenting
on the fish. And I had exotic fish.
CAN WE PICK UP... AT THE TIME OF THE SEATTLE WORLD'S FAIR.
WAS IT '62 OR '61?
The World's Fair was 1962. So in 1962 the Seattle World's Fair opened and I
decided... to open a public aquarium on the waterfront. There [weren't any] in
Seattle. [People would have to pay admission to] ...see the seals [and] the
octopus and all of these other sea creatures. Many of my... diving friends
went with me and we collected underwater life in nets, traps, all kinds of
devices. We had good fun.
I bought the food and the fuel and the diving equipment and I had maybe as many
as 20 or 30 people helping on some days. We'd come back with big tanks full of
all kinds of fish. [The creature the most fun to catch] was the octopus of
course. The trick is to get the octopus to come out of its grotto and not [to]
injure it in any way. And you have to tickle them and tease them out sometimes.
You know they're there because there's a big pile of sea shells laying outside
[S]oon ... [it] became possible for me to acquire some dolphins that were at
another exhibit in the Seattle area for the opening for the fair. I became
fascinated with [dolphin] intelligence and... how they would recognize people
and the things they would do. And so I began my quest for capturing a killer
whale for public display and also as a personal pet. The idea was simple
enough. I would have the whale as a personal companion but I'd have to charge
admission to see him so I could feed him because as it worked out, he ate about
400 pounds of salmon every day. And though salmon wasn't a dollar a pound, it
was almost that much... .
AND THIS IS WHEN YOU HEARD WORD OF A FISHERMAN WHO...
Well in 1963 I was characterized as the Huckleberry Finn or just plain madman,
if you will, jumping out of a helicopter with a rope in my hand, trying to get
around the tail of a killer whale. And I was chasing after them... trying to
learn and also trying to capture them. Fishermen told me that you couldn't
catch them in nets because the many times that [the whales] had been in
fishermen's nets they had broken right through. They'd rip a net and go
straight out. So I had given up on the net idea. I thought [I would have to
use] a solid rope or... food, but how do you get a killer whale's attention?
And at any rate, the information about my pursuit of the whale became pretty
widespread and one day I received a call from the town of Namu, British
Columbia, which was some several hundred miles from Seattle, and they informed
me that a whale had accidentally been captured behind some nets that were cut
free from a fishing boat in a storm. I went up and viewed the whale and really
fell in love... . I just, I was fascinated.
But the gentleman that had custody of the whale at that time wanted a price
that was more than ... I could possibly come up with and so I had to depart.
They informed me that the Marinelands and other institutions were... going to
pay a big price. They all [saw] the whale and they all said the same thing...
how do you move an 8,000 pound whale out of this area to an airport which is
300 miles away? ... And how can you fly a whale of 8,000 pounds? So they
called me back and [asked if I was still interested in the whale. ...[T]he
whale was not able to break through these three nets because of the proximity
and probably because he'd slowed down and decided he didn't want to challenge
That's when I learned that whales could be contained in nets, because he
certainly could have broken through. So I bought the whale. I didn't have
$8,000..., so when I got the message Saturday night that they would [only] keep
the whale one day... , I raised a little over $8,000 in ones, fives and 20
dollar bills from the waterfront merchants store owners in Puget Sound along
the Seattle waterfront.
.... By 9 or 10 o'clock I was on an airplane with $8,000 in a gunny sack. ...
It was an all day trip [to Namu, British Columbia] and we had to fly in. I
remember the pilot telling me that he could not fly in because he was not
allowed to fly in Canada after dark ... [and] it took every bit of my power of
persuasion to get him to continue flying because the [whale was going to be
released]. [The fishermen] didn't really think I would arrive with the money.
...[I]n fact they were extremely surprised when I arrived. And then knowing
that I'd arrived with the money, they made me demonstrate my manliness by arm
wrestling me and shaking me about a bit, but I think it was relief of their
own tension and pressure. They were so happy to have this thing done with. So
we typed up an agreement and I purchased the whale. ... [A]nd that's where it
AND THEN THE PROBLEM OF MOVING. ...YOU HAVE TO MOVE HIM. NOW WHAT?
...[Y]ou've bought a whale, out there somewhere in the water, in the dark of
night, [and] it's a couple of miles from town. You have no boat. The only
thing you have a credit card and they say a credit what? The only thing they
understand is money.
I had to figure out how to keep the whale intact and get money. So I made...
an arrangement with the B.C. Packers Association, which was the wharf that we
were on that owned the land anaerobe. They extended [credit to me]. I'm not
sure why. And... I immediately flew back to Seattle to prepare for the moving
of the whale.
[Right before this time I went to the Tacoma aquarium] ...and contacted Don
Goldsberry who was then with the aquarium ... I knew him because every time I
was out looking to capture killer whales Don Goldbserry was there. ...Don was
telling me to get away from his whales and I was telling him to get away from
my whales, and of course neither one of us had control of the whales. But
we... were both after the same thing and I realized that. And so I asked Don
to help me ... [and] we built a large steel pen. It was 40 feet by 60 feet by
about 20 feet deep and we got the whale in the pen and [we towed the pen]. And
[the question was would the whale swim? The whale did swim 400 and some miles
back to Seattle.
HOW MANY DAYS? WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
It was a long trip. I think it was... 19 days. If you don't count the delays
caused by the newspaper people staging the arrival of the whale in Seattle.
But that's a different story. The Seattle Times expressed a lot of interest
in the whale and in covering the story. And they asked for the right to be on
board the vessel and I don't know the specific arrangements. Some time ago I
think they asked for an exclusive or some such thing. At that time they were
photographing the whale on a daily basis, sending photographs back, and they
had an airplane coming and going every day... .
And I suppose the climax came when the whale was to arrive in Seattle [sometime
between 7 and 9 in the morning]. The whale was in sight of... Pier 56 in
downtown Seattle. Everybody was there. The pier was just loaded with people.
The press was there.
DID YOU HAVE AT THAT TIME A SENSE OF THE POWER OF THE PRESS AND THE MEDIA?
You know, when you're caught up in the activity and the only thing that you
have [on] your mind is [getting] your whale and in this case my whale... let's
be frank, I believed it to be my whale. And I wanted that whale and I didn't
want anything to happen... to the whale, I didn't want it to be injured
mentally or physically. I didn't want ... any other problem[s]. So I probably
went overboard... [I] spent a lot of extra money, had a lot of extra people,
whatever was necessary to protect that whale. I was even threatened by people
who were going to bomb divers or ... cut the whale loose underwater... . So we
guarded against all of these possibilities... . But again, ...the press [was]
developing the story and having an excellent time with it, but I [wasn't]
really aware of it. People would say, you know, Ted, you're in a front page of
the headlines again and the Vietnam story made page two. And that didn't
register... . I didn't understand.
Only a year or two later when I actually looked at my mom's scrapbook and saw
the material [did I begin] to realize the impact that this animal was having.
I mean she had articles from all over the world ... and pictures of me with the
whale. ...[I]t was picked up in over 100 countries. ... Was I caught up in it?
Yes. Did I know what was going on? No. And... those are the circumstances of
these things. Sometimes you just can't... figure out or you can't keep track
of all of it. You just manage what you can and the rest takes place.
TELL ME ABOUT IT. WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE PUBLICITY?
Within a month [my publicist] had me in the water with a shark, a very big
shark. And the first question after we had signed our agreement was [whether
there were sharks in Puget Sound]. I said no. He said are you sure? I said
well, yeah, there's the big six-gill sharks but you know ... they're down deep.
They're kind of like a mud shark. And he said do they have teeth? I said well
yeah, they [have] big teeth. And he said good, how big do they get? And I
said well, 10, 15, 20 feet maybe, and he said that's just right. He [told me
to go get one]. So I did.
...[T]here were 1,000 people there when we brought the shark in. ... [This
shark] was tied up in a telephone line... so a diver and I went down... we knew
it was down there because we were yanking on the line and the shark was yanking
on the other end. But he wound around a buried telephone cable by digging in
the mud. We had to go down, ...break him loose, [and] get the lines off of
him. And we were hanging onto the shark and the shark took off, and we were
sitting on him. And the two of us were holding onto that shark and holding
onto his front flippers and riding him double. And we rode him for about ... a
minute and a half, two minutes, and straight up to the surface. And when I hit
the surface of the water, there were TV cameras and everything imaginable up
there. ...[We] put a big stretcher in the water and brought the shark up and
took him over to the quarry and put him in. And [my publicity agent] said Ted,
I want you out of the water and I said okay, is it too dangerous? He said no,
I want this woman to be in the water. And she was a very attractive woman in a
wet suit and we had this... monstrous-looking shark with the biggest teeth you
ever saw... [T]his very attractive woman had a lot of panache. And she just
went in and grabbed a hold of those sharks and took them around and opened
their mouths and you know, I learn something every day. That's my publicity
So are they valuable? They can be. Did he do a job for me? He certainly did.
He saved my business career. Without him, I probably would not have survived
the year following the World's Fair because [although] business was very good
during the fair but the following years were kind of slow. But he was also
helpful after the purchase of the whale Namu in bringing The Seattle Times into
the picture, which he did.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHANGE THAT SEEMS TO HAVE HAPPENED PRETTY QUICKLY FROM THE
FISHERMEN [READY TO SHOOT] THE KILLER WHALES BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE
COMPETING... WITH THEM FOR SALMON... AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, PEOPLE... READY
TO CUT THE NETS AND HAVE NAMU SWIM FREE.
Well... there was a transition. It probably went faster than I did. ...[T]he
attitude of the fishermen [was that] you shoot the killer whales because they
will eat the salmon which you are trying to catch on a hook or the salmon
you're trying to net. And the whales give off a sound when they're trying to
communicate with one another and the fish are very frightened of these sounds,
and they will dive deep or swim away and they will not take bait. So when the
killer whales are present, typically the salmon won't bite. [Although] most of
the fishermen on the water would... not [shoot the whales]... , some had rifles
and they did shoot at the whales.
Part of my problem was that I was unable to convince anyone and I was laughed
at for several years. I kept saying to anyone [who] would listen that I was
going to ride the whale and that [whales] would not kill people and that all of
these strange accounts of whales attacking people were just jokes [and that]
there was just nothing to it. ... But I did not get a hearing.
So I asked my publicity agent if he would help me make this change, and he said
well we're going to... change something here but... once we do this [anything
could happen]. It'll be out of your control. And I said it's okay, you know,
if we can get people to stop killing the whales... we've done something. So he
and I discussed how we could develop the Oilcan Harry business... the whale
that was taking Namu's family.
And people starting writing letters and postcards and things and the mail just
built up tremendously. [I received mail addressed to Namu, Seattle,
Washington... .] The post office kind of tracked me down... . And Namu got a
lot of fan mail.
But... people [quickly] began to become concerned about the welfare of the
whale and it wasn't very long before I was being challenged as to [why I would
catch more whales when I already had one]. And I explained that... I enjoyed
the capture of the whales and... [that] they were all unique and different ...
[T]here were a number of oceanariums that were willing to pay me a very
reasonable price. I will admit that the price today is some 200 times greater
than it was then, or maybe even 500 times greater. But what we did was we
would catch a few whales and suddenly I could see that the trend was so
remarkable and that the people were so... against [keeping] whales in captivity
that I realized it would be extremely difficult to continue that enterprise.
At the same time, we would catch perhaps as many as 20 whales... or more in
some cases, and other whale brokers suddenly [appeared] on the map [and] ...
agree[d] to take all of the whales. ...I might catch as many as 20 or 25 at a
time [but] we would take one, two [or] perhaps three. ... [S]o they would go
out and hire fishing boats. They would camp outside our net and wait for us to
release the whales. And then they would try to capture them. We were very
cautious about it and nobody was ever successful... . They thought that
because the Canadians who caught a few whales immediately sold every whale they
ever caught and none were ever returned, that we were the same, and [we] never
were the same at all.
WHAT... WAS LIKE TO HAVE NAMU AS A FRIEND....
When I got the phone call ... that Namu might become available, of course it
was just a large killer whale at that time. In my mind, I visualized riding
this whale which I'd never seen. It was described to me and I could see
myself doing that. ...[During] the initial getting together with the whale, I
realized that this was going to happen. There was nothing that would get in my
way. However..., the whale had been in Seattle for several days and I hadn't
ridden the whale yet. I was in the water brushing his nose and we were talking
and I was squeaking and the whale was squeaking back, and the whale [followed]
One day Ivan Taurus the film producer showed up [with] my brother [and] ...
said, Ted, if someone will swim with the whale, we can make the movie Namu the
Killer Whale. And so while I was thinking about it my brother went to the back
room, put on a wet suit, climbed in the water with the whale and went swimming
with the whale. So in point of fact, he was the very first. I hate to say that
because while I was thinking about it and enjoying this period of time, Jim,
practical... man that he is, decided that the contract was extremely important
and they had to have footage of a man and a killer whale together. Well they
had their footage in an hour and Jim was out of the water and he said "I got
all my arms and legs. Go ahead. The water's safe, you know." [I swam] with
the whale and probably in my mind [I was thinking about how far I could go and
what I could do]. Would the whale come when I called? Would the whale try to
call me? Would the whale show me any indication of whether it was hungry or
what... he [wanted] or whatever it was.
And so the first few days in the water, the whale... no matter where I was...
would come to me, always. And... even in the dead of night the whale would
come up and I'd know the whale was there but I wouldn't know whether he was
behind me or in front of me and I wouldn't be able to sense him. And he would
be like an inch away but not touching me, and I'd reach around until I could
feel his nose. And then I would caress his body with my hand, moving my hands
over his body, and the whale liked to have that caressing. And we became great
At [the] time, I could squeak to the whale and the whale would squeak back... I
didn't know what I was saying to the whale but I knew I was learning to
communicate something and getting the whale to respond. And so I had a...
gentleman from Stanford Research Institute, Dr. Thomas Poulter, [to come to the
area and do a lot of recordings]. ...[A]fter several days of recordings of all
of these things, ...he had notes about who said what and when it was said.
And he said "well, Ted, I, ...got to tell you something here." And I said
"well what is it, Tom?" And he said, "you're not talking like the whale. The
whale has entirely changed his vocalization to sound like you. And here it is
on the sonogram." And I was just thunderstruck. But... probably one of the
biggest shocks that I ever, I ever had was that this whale was trying to reach
me in this way.
WHAT DID THAT MEAN TO YOU?
Well, the first shock that I had was when I actually went underwater with the
whale in the town of Namu to secure the pen --the whale had swum into the pen
but the door was not closed. ...I had to raise the cargo net up behind the
whale and then I had to tie it all together... . And so I was in the water, and
I don't know exactly how it happened. I might have just spiked myself on the
knife or something and I went "oop", just a little sound. And the whale
immediately made a [similar] sound, and I didn't... really recognize that,
didn't even know because I wasn't familiar with whale sounds at that time. And
then the whale started back and [made] a couple of sounds. So I'd wait a
minute and I'd [make] a sound, and the very moment that I would utter any
sound, the whale would immediately echo that sound as best he could. If I'd
wait two minutes, working, threading, I was doing a needle and thread work with
nylon twine, the whale would not make any noise. And suddenly I was in tears,
in tears in my diving mask. ...I couldn't believe what I actually was
believing, that this animal was saying "hi" in his own way.
That was the first time, and the next time... I realized that the whale would
not hurt me and that the whale wanted my attention. And when I would... [walk]
along in a crowd of 100 people at the aquarium... the whale would follow me.
If I'd walk with ten people, the whale would follow me. If I would stop
walking and ten people would go on, the whale would stop and stay with me. I
couldn't figure out how he was able to do this but his eyesight was pretty good
[and] even looking up through the water he was still able to tell.
So these things [begin] to grow on you and soon, I suppose what happened to me
[was that] I really threw caution to the wind. I just ignored all of the
normal cautions that you should observe. And at that point I just let
everything go and I spent endless hours with the whale. I mean day after day
after day, hour after hour in the water. And we had ... a lot of good times,
[much of it while] filming the movie, Namu the Killer Whale.
A lot of other times, the camera crew [asked] me to get the whale to swim left,
swim right, stay put, jump and all those things. And... then [they told me
not to be] in the picture because [they wanted] the whale to do the jumping
without [me and then they wanted] the whale to jump with [me] on his back, and
then we'd jump, and then I'd fall off and then the whale'd come back and get
me. And he'd say no, no, no can't fall off, and all of these kinds of things.
So we had quite a time. ... I was in a wet suit for 8 to 12 hours a day. I
don't ever remember being cold or afraid. At the end of the day I was so tired
[that]... people almost had to carry me out of the water. But before that
period of time, it was something that... you can't really explain or express to
others. In a way, you wish others could understand and be a part of it. And
there were a few.
[During the day] most of the men worked and most of the women were at home with
their children. [From time to time] many women divers would come to the
lagoon. Sometimes their husbands would be with them. The women would put on
wet suits and ride with the whale and play with the whale and frolic all day
long. And their husbands would not get in the water and they were just furious
or they'd call me on the phone at the beach, and they'd say "is my wife over
there with a whale?" And I'd say "yeah" and they'd literally say "will you
make her come home and cook dinner?" And this went on for a year. So there
were many people that came and swam with the whale. And so I... will never
forget any part of that time, nor will any of the people that participated.
And I'm... very glad that I was able, mentally able to allow these other people
to get in the water because I felt very possessive and proprietary about the
whale. I didn't want anybody else to touch him. But I knew that that was not
a practical way to look at it as an experience, that it goes beyond one
WAS IT A SURPRISE TO EVERYBODY THAT THAT KIND OF... FRIENDSHIP COULD HAPPEN?
I think... it was a surprise to most people that the whale would be
affectionate and friendly and accept the company of others. You know, you have
[some] individuals who are willing to take risks and others who are not, but
they would see me in the water and they would say "well, what the heck ... if
he's not going to eat Ted, then I got a pretty good chance and this is a once
in a lifetime I'm going to do it." It finally got to the point where they'd
say "Ted, would you mind leaving, going away?" I mean because when you're in
the water the whale will only come to you. Even when we're all diving together
underwater, the whale can't see us. His sonar is so good, he can tell me from
all the other divers, and they... [would] get mad at me because they [couldn't]
play for the whale and [couldn't] get the whale to come to them. So they
literally asked me to get out. I mean that was almost a compliment. Maybe it
was a compliment.
SOUNDS LIKE ONE. YOU AT ONE POINT WANTED TO GET A PLAYMATE FOR NAMU.
[E]arly on... I [came to believe] that a killer whale would not automatically
swim through a net... . I thought that I now would be able to capture a live
killer whale. And so I went out with fishermen and with nets and I was
successful in capturing a whale, which I brought to the lagoon and... is now
known as Shamu. But in 1965 this 14 foot [female] whale got along just find
with Namu. Interestingly enough, the whale began --maybe because she was young
-- to roughhouse with me in a very dangerous way. And when I [was] in the
water with Namu, even riding him, this whale would ram Namu with such force
that it might have killed me. And when I was [swimming] in the water with
Namu... the whale would ram me, but not as [seriously] as some of the times
that she rammed Namu.
I thought this was child's play at first but it became quite serious. Sea
World had come to Seattle and was very interested in acquiring a killer whale
for their new facility in San Diego, and for awhile we negotiated and then
finally I [agreed]. ...[T]hey wanted to call the whale Namu and they wanted
the rights to the name, and I wouldn't do that. So they said okay, we'll...
call her Shamu, and that's how it all started. So Shamu went to San Diego and
Namu stayed in Seattle.
YOU WERE CALLED BY THE PENTAGON AROUND THAT TIME TO COME DOWN AND TELL THEM
ABOUT KILLER WHALES?
The... killer whale [and dolphins have] always been of interest to scientists
and biologists... and the military has been doing ongoing studies with
dolphins. And the killer whale [is] a large or the largest member of the
dolphin family [so] the military believed that... the killer whale would be an
advantageous animal, perhaps [for] locating objects in the sea, perhaps [for]
recovering torpedoes that they were firing in the dummy torpedo range. And so
they... came to me and asked that I make two whales available to them, and they
took two whales to Hawaii. And they were in... what's called the Mackay
Range... for some years [where the military] studied them. [The whales] were
well-trained. [They] were trained to run in the open ocean and they ran
alongside the boat or whatever and they were following commands. I do not know
exactly what came of them. I believe that in time, one or both... ran away,
went AWOL if you will. I think at that time the military believed that they
were too independent to be manageable for their activities, so that's kind of
how it came down.
Yeah, it was... an interesting time but I... was interviewed at the Pentagon
for a number of days [during which time we reviewed] a lot of studies as to
what the killer whale had to offer. ... This was some 35 years ago.
Incidentally, it's not widely known but they made available to me some... very
very technical electronic gear which allowed me to follow the whales and record
them at great distances for long periods of time. And that's why... I could
keep up with the whales day and night for days on end sometimes, following them
across the straits in all kinds of weather... .
WAS THAT AN EXCHANGE, YOUR INFORMATION FOR THE TECHNOLOGY?
Well of course they were interested in what we were learning and so information
and tapes ... were exchanged with various people who [became] known to me over
time. We actually had [the] whale known as Scana ... on exhibit in the
Vancouver PNE exposition in 1967, and I already knew that it would work but we
set it up as a first time trial. [With the use of special underwater devices
we enabled the whale in Canada and the whale in Seattle to hear one another.]
And the whales in Seattle and... Canada communicated very nicely with each
other. [We avoided all] of the acoustical problems that you might encounter
with... high and the low range and the frequencies. [T]hey went on for quite a
while and it was all recorded. And it was a very exciting time for everybody
and we... knew in advance that it would work, but everyone else believed it
[was the first time this was happening]. But [there have been] some pretty
exciting things that have been developed over the years in this arena.
WELL THAT SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER STEP ON THE WAY TO HUMANIZING WHALES.
Well, the thing we do as humans and this is sort of a... bit of a philosophical
departure, is that oftentimes we're disappointed with our own behavior as
humans, or perhaps the behavior of others. And we tend to look at dogs and
whales and other animals as being more or less innocent and following an
instinctive behavior pattern, which means [for example] that a whale doesn't
injure humans so he's probably okay. And in fact we probably should give him
equal rights to humans... .
Just because we're [hu]man and we have charge of things, or we think we have
charge of things, doesn't automatically mean that we have the rights to
superimpose our will on everybody. On the other hand, we do, and it's what we
are. So there's a balance there and you're going to have people on both sides
of the ledger.
And you haven't asked, but I will... say that for much of my life... I have
believed that I am right and have done the best I could under the circumstances
and of course there are occasions where you might have done something
differently or if an animal dies during the capture, you wish it didn't happen,
but it does happen. And does that mean you won't do it? No. Does that mean
you'll try to do better in the future? Yes. Does that mean that it's possible
to do it without having animal casualties? Yes. But to arrive at that point
takes time. It takes a lot of time. There are people that say well that's not
worth the price and there are other people that say well, that's life and we
learn by that and so you're always going to have both... sides [of the issue].
People ask me about animals in captivity. Is it right? Well --for a time in
our lives-- this is what is done and I maintained Namu in captivity. That
doesn't mean that I didn't want to have him wild, it's just that I couldn't
overcome the urge to have him under my control. Now, I was of the opinion, and
still am, that killer whales could be trained to remain in the area and return
to common places on a frequency, maybe twice a day, to jump and cavort for
people. In fact, I had in mind for the Golden Gardens area of Seattle a large
oceanarium which would include [whales trained to remain in an area].
...[W]hales [could come] to the beach and children could get up on their backs
and ride around. Lloyd's of London... was still in business and they probably
would have written a policy, but the insurance [today would probably be]
At any rate, this question will go on indefinitely and I just seek a common
balance and an understanding. Would I catch whales again for live capture and
for a pet? Yes. Would I do it the same way? No. If you gave me the choice
of using the knowledge I've gained, I would be quite different about it, but I
would still do it. Would I maintain killer whales in captivity? Yes. When
would I not do that? When... a time came when it was possible to have them and
exhibit them and have people become acquainted with them as I had, or the
captivity corral, if you will, would be large enough that there wouldn't be
any question as to whether or not it was big enough. So you're always going to
have people on both sides [of the issue] and I don't know that it'll ever end.
But that's it for me.
IF YOU CAN BRIEFLY TELL US ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO NAMU.
I had Namu for about one year. At the end of that year Namu was on display in
Seattle in the Puget Sound. Puget Sound at that time in 1965-66 was highly
polluted and I had hoped that the whale could survive in that area until I
built a new facility. The whale became quite ill with a bacterium known as
clostridium, and within a very few hours died. The whale [also] became
entangled in the nets, probably because he was delirious. His brain was not
And immediately it was assumed that he had tried to break out, which was not
the case. There were others that claimed that he was trying to be with his mate
and that a female whale had been seen in the area, but mostly this is what I
would consider tabloid... journalism. Other people went down and defined the
area where he tried to break out but of course they were looking at the wrong
place. They didn't really know. But it was after dark and I had to go down in
the water and I had to cut him out of the nets. He was in an enclosure. And
it was a very difficult time. You pull yourself together and you think okay,
this has to be done and there's nobody else to do it. There are those brief
moments when the light from the docks reflect in his eye and you think you see
movement and you allow yourself to believe the whale's still alive. I did.
[But] I toughened up and held together until I was able to get the whale free
of the enclosure and to another area where he could be removed from the water.
And at that point, I was a total disaster and had to leave the area.
Fortunately my partner, Don Goldsberry, was available and he being somewhat
tougher than I am in this respect was able to take charge and manage the
But it was one of the most difficult times of my life, and probably the only
time in my life I ever wrote poetry. But you know, you're moved by great
emotion to do strange things. ... I was resolved to have another pet, so I
continued capturing killer whales and a year later I did acquire additional
whales. I said okay, I'll make another pen in here. Couldn't do it. And so
at that point, it was pretty much over for me.
So I pulled things back together and started acting like a businessman and we
captured whales for zoos and aquariums around the world. Japan, Germany,
England, France, and of course Sea World and others [such as] Canada. And this
went on for a number of years... 1972 I think it was... it was not fun. The
involvement that I'd had prior to that time was gone. I couldn't become [as]
emotionally associated with a whale as I had before, and they had the annual
meeting of the game department where they talk about killer whales and
captivity and issue permits for the capturing of whales. And there were some
things said at the meeting which gave me great concern for my continued
enterprise. [There was concern for] the safety of the people [and] they were
issuing orders that we could never capture any whales... near land where people
could observe them because people found that offensive. As a result, I retired
during that meeting and that was the last time I ever actually got anywhere
near a killer whale.
WE'VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT THE PENN COVE, THE CAPTURE'S CALLED NOW "THE CAPTURE AT
PENN COVE". IT'S BECOME SORT OF INFAMOUS AND FAMOUS, AND I'D LIKE TO HEAR WHAT
Yes. The capture in Penn Cove. Actually there were three captures in Penn
Cove, but probably the capture that's become well known in the northwest took
place in the early 70s.
...[W]hen you set the net, you never know exactly how many whales are going to
be there. We wound up with 80 or 90 killer whales in the net. We immediately
released a large number of them, but we still had a net full of whales. I
don't know how many were there. It's a little hard to count, but perhaps 40 or
so. Many of the whales were young whales, we'll say a year old or less. As
long as the adults are swimming around in the net, the young stay with them and
they catch on very quickly.
Over the years, we'd acquired a lot of publicity about this and there had
been... a lot of hard feelings in certain circles with people who did not want
us to capture whales. The first night out I was on deck and it was my watch,
and I noticed that the lights on the net were drifting in the wrong direction
because the tide, you can tell how the tide's moving and I'd been doing this
for some 8 to 10 years and pretty much knew. We have a staff of 8 or 10 skin
divers round the clock in uniform ready to work day or night. And immediately
[we] noticed [that] the nets were drifting apart. [We] went out to investigate,
found the nets had been cut severely in three different places, all the way
down to the bottom. When this happens, the tongue of the net kind of drifts in
and out and the tide moves it and the adult whales are very skillful at
maneuvering around nets in the water. Their echolocation is very good and...
they can handle themselves. But the young are not familiar with the
circumstances and as a result, I believe it was four young whales tangled in
the nets. It was a real tragedy. We were underwater in the middle of the
night with our searchlights and we could see these whales woven in the nets,
and some of them we were able to get out because they were still alive.
If I'd have known maybe 20 minutes sooner, but sometimes these things happen, I
might have done more. In any event, the whales were removed. In the past, when
we've removed a dead whale, we've either taken it to a government agency who
has just autopsied the whale, just to check stomach contents and so on, or
we've given it to a rendering works where they would convert it to fertilizer.
... [U]nfortunately the government agencies [receiving our whales] chose to
make headlines out of the fact that whales were dying during whale capture.
[T]he rendering works people were also getting headlines for their activities
and some... person at the rendering factory would stand in front of the whale
with a picture in a newspaper. And it is sensationalism... so at that time the
decision was made to anchor the whales and sink them to the bottom. Not a
decision that I like making and I'm not saying that I'm not responsible for
what happened. I am responsible. ... Some time later, the whales for one
reason or another surfaced or came ashore, and it was within I believe six
months or... it's a long time ago so I don't remember the exact circumstances.
But the event caused a lot of... news and a lot of anxiety among many people
who lived in the area and they [felt that their trust had] been violated in
some way. And to an extent, it has. We've attempted to capture whales in an
area where the whales are normally seen, and I don't know if you can [compare]
it to cutting a tree off the hillside or whatever, but in any event, it came
down very hard on all of us, myself included.
There was a sidebar to this. At the time that these whales surfaced, it just
happened that I was meeting with then Governor Dan Evans and was asking him not
to endorse legislation which would forbid the capture of killer whales for live
display. I remember sitting with Dan and his administrative assistant came in
and informed him that the news story had just broken. And Dan asked me the
circumstances and I explained and said that I would not pursue the issue at
that time. And the legislation was passed and that was the beginning of the
ending of the live capture of killer whales in Puget Sound.
WAS IT THAT LEGISLATION THAT WAS BEING DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING WHERE YOU HAD
DECIDED NOT TO PARTICIPATE ANY MORE?
In 1972, the game commission met. ... And I was approached by the Department of
Game who regulated animal capture at this time. Should have been Fisheries, but
Fisheries had boats and resources and understood the commercial side. Game was
a permit, fee based system, so all they could do was collect $1,000 for each
whale that we wanted a permit for and put it in the general fund where it could
be spent on schools or something, but not on whale studies. They came to me
with a proposal which was restrictive but agreeable. They then went to the
meeting and said that Ted Griffin has in fact endorsed this proposal, which I
had not because the points of the proposal were entirely different from what I
had agreed to. And at that point I retired from the business knowing that
there was no possibility for me to continue capturing killer whales [with]
intervention by people who did not understand the risks and procedures, and
that the restrictions in the proposals that they had were totally nonsensical.
And so that was, that was the last day that I was in that business.
JUST STOOD UP AND WALKED OUT.
I got up and I walked out. ... I actually said, you have a gun pointed to my
head and if I don't leave, you're going to kill me, or something to that
effect, which is how I felt about it because by this time [because] the Game
Department were carrying guns and they had permission to shoot if we didn't
obey the law. I figured that was a good time to stop.
BUT YOUR PARTNER, DON GOLDSBERRY KEPT GOING?
My partner Don Goldsberry, for whatever reasons... was able to convince the
Game Commission and others that he should be granted permits and he did
continue in the business for some years, at first in Puget Sound and then
later... with the Sea World and he was very successful in capturing killer
whales in other parts of the world. And [I don't know anything about] that
chapter of his life... . I've met Don on occasion. Don continued to live the
adventure that I dreamed of... but I was not a part of that anymore.
YOU HAD TALKED TO ME ABOUT A STORY THAT I'D LIKE VERY MUCH TO HEAR AGAIN ABOUT
A HELICOPTER AND A BOAT AND DON GOLDSBERRY.
I became acquainted with Don Goldsberry through a chance encounter in Puget
Sound, which wasn't by chance at all. I was in a boat and Don was in a
helicopter and we were both following the whales. And I didn't hear the
helicopter because the boat engine was making too much noise. And suddenly
I'm standing on the bow of the boat, over the top of the killer whales, looking
down, ready to jump in with a lasso and get on one, get it around his tail.
And Don Goldsberry is in a helicopter, hovering over my head with a lasso of
his own, ready to jump out of the plane and catch his own whale. And I'm
shouting at him in the helicopter, "get out of here, get away from my whales."
And he said to me, "what do you mean, your whales? You'll have to catch one
first." That's how we became partners.
WHAT WAS HE LIKE?
Oh, Don. What kind of a guy was Don? He... was what I wasn't. I was a kind
of a guy that was focused and dedicated and had the dream of doing this, but I
didn't have any skills with fishing boats or fishing nets. He did. And once
Namu had... accidentally been captured, nets were involved, I knew that Don's
skill with nets and understanding of how to deal with fishermen, because he'd
been a commercial fisherman, would be extremely beneficial.
But Don and I were different, different as night and day, and for this period
of time, we were able to set aside our differences and work together to
effectively capture killer whales for live display very successfully. Don
believed that he was solely responsible because he put the net around them. I
believed I was solely responsible because I found them and made sure that he
had them where he could get the net around them, and that's how we worked as a
team. I never worked on the boat, he never worked on my boat.
SO YOU HAD TWO BOATS?
We had many boats. When we captured whales, we might have one to two sea
planes, one helicopter. We would have one to two fishing boats with large
nets. Sometimes the nets were three quarters of a mile long, if we had two
nets tied together. And Don Goldsberry would be with the captain on the whale
catch vessel. Later on, we bought our own vessel and Don drove that vessel and
successfully captured whales along with me, but he drove the boat. But Don
had a knack for knowing just how far the net would run while he was running the
boat and when to make the circle and where the whales might be underwater but
you can't see them. And once he started netting the whales, they pretty much
never got away from him. I on the other hand had a knack for helping the
whales find their way to Don, if you will, and that's how we worked.
HOW DID YOU DO THAT?
Well I'd like to say with telepathy, but I had some electronic gear that
allowed me to know where they are, which I don't really know if Don knew
anything about it... . But I was able to get on top of the whales. I was able
to run the boat in a way that would cause the whales to move away from me and
Don was idly waiting in the right place, and the whales would move in his
direction. And then at the proper time, he would set the net. I would
oftentimes have as many as five boats with me and we would do what is known in
the cattle business as herding the cows. And when a whale would surface and
surface going in the wrong direction, we would run over to the whale [that] was
surfacing and we would run the boats back and forth outside of the area, hoping
that the whales, though they could dive under us, and did, would migrate back
to the area where Don was waiting quietly.
BEFORE YOU MENTIONED ORDERS COMING IN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD, BUT YOU SAID
SOMETIMES WE COULDN'T FILL THEM BECAUSE WE HAD HIT OUR QUOTA, I THINK YOU USED
THE WORD. WHAT WAS THAT?
Well sure. If you get an order for a dozen killer whales, what are you going
to do? Yeah, we could do it but how many years could you fill a dozen whale
orders, maybe 2, 3, 4 and then you're done. Then there are no more whales,
they're not breeding. None left. [M]any people thought that I would have
taken and sold every whale that I ever captured. I don't know, but something
on the order of 3 or 4% of the whales we actually captured [were sold].
Sometimes we'd capture a whale and it wasn't a desirable whale. ...I had a
Canadian whale merchant ready to buy all the killer whales one day, and I
wouldn't sell them to him... this was witnessed by the press incidentally. And
the press was taking notes and taking pictures and they heard the negotiations.
... I would not turn over my whales carte blanche... .
Well the why of it is if you gave them the 20 whales, then who's going to be
there next year to have babies and how are you going to farm the sea? It's a
finite resource, like anything. ...We'd had to stop and so we'd have maybe one
or two hunts a year, where they're actually capturing the whales. Sometimes we
were unsuccessful, you know. We'd go out and drop the net and the whales would
swim the other and thumb their nose at us, which they did often. But I knew
from the very beginning that the Puget Sound area could only yield a certain
number of whales, and their number would be in dispute even today. But that
was my attitude about it.
DID YOU AND DON AGREE ABOUT THAT?
Yeah, we did... . I don't think Don ever was of the mind to take all the
whales. I never had to hassle with him. We had people with money standing on
the deck. We didn't have any problem[s]. [I would say] "I'm sorry... if you
want to order a whale from us, we'll be glad to take your order and you, [but]
you get a position, you get a number." It was a take a number system kind of a
HOW MANY WHALES DO YOU THINK [YOU CAPTURED] BETWEEN '66 AND '72 WHEN YOUR
BUSINESS WAS RUNNING?
So you're asking, like, how many whales were captured altogether; is that the
YEAH. I'D LIKE TO GET A SENSE OF THE VOLUME OF THE BUSINESS.
I'd say from 1965 through 1972, ...the period of time that I was actively
engaged, ...I don't have the exact numbers but I believe around 30, maybe 32
whales were actually captured and shipped to various oceanariums around the
world. Sea World bought a fair number of those.
DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW MANY OF A FAIR NUMBER WOULD BE?
I'd have to guess as to the number that Sea World had, but I would say in the 8
to 12 range, something like that.
AND RIGHT BEFORE STOPPED, YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT A PARK THAT SURVEYED THAT
WASN'T TO YOUR LIKING. I'M INTERESTED IN THAT BECAUSE IT GOES TO THE SENSE OF
RESPONSIBILITY THAT YOU HAVE TOWARDS THE ANIMALS, IF YOU COULD COMMENT ON
Well, the issue with us was who takes care of the whale, [bearing] in mind that
even if they offer us money, if a whale dies in captivity, it's bad publicity.
... We did not ship to people who couldn't take care of them for several
reasons. One prime reason was because we did not want the public to become
alarmed or incensed... . The second thing is we did not want it to happen as a
result of the activity that we were engaged in, which means that even though we
had turned over responsibility for this animal we needed to know that these
people had the financial capacity to take care of them.
[As far as this particular case in San Francisco is concerned], they were going
to take a wharf in the harbor and hollow it out [and] take out all the piling
and put a fence around it and have the whale swimming in an extremely polluted
area where it could not be lifted out of the water or surveyed in any way and
the crowd would not be seeing a killer whale perform... . The killer whale
would be trained to eat a live seal hung from the ceiling. All of these things
were totally offensive to us and, for a variety of reasons, we declined.
So each of these facilities was checked and oftentimes, they would pay the bill
for us to fly and sometimes we had to decline, but that was it. We also had to
meet the veterinarian and sometimes we would fly down our veterinarian or their
veterinarian would come up and interview with ours... . And word got around
very quickly that we were not going to accept orders from anybody who couldn't
take care of this animal and have the finances in place to feed it and care for
I think to that end, we [learned] a lot from Sea World. Sea World was in my
opinion, the world leader in developing animal husbandry techniques. They had
every bit of the finest equipment, the finest people involved. And though they
had their share of unfortunate situations with the killer whales, they have
lead the way, they have had [a second generation of whales in captivity]. But
this does not come about as a result of a casual acquaintance with a killer
whale; this is an entire team and millions of dollars of resources committed to
understanding the behavior of this animal and who knows, this information will
be incredibly invaluable to us in the future if something went wrong with the
whales in the wild. So I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am with the
developments that have been made since I left the enterprise, the business.
LOLITA IS A NAME THAT WAS GIVEN TO MAYBE THE WHALE THAT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT
JUST NOW, WHO WAS SHIPPED TO SEA ARENA?
Lolita was a whale that we captured, I believe, in Penn Cove in the seventies.
Again, my memory is a little distant there. And she has become the subject of
controversy because there's a claim that the facility isn't adequate. I
haven't seen the facility so I really don't know what she's in now. But the
interesting aspect of the Lolita situation is that there are people who would
like to put her back in the Puget Sound area, actually try to rejoin her with
It's an intriguing concept. There are people who claim that she will bring
disease, there are people who claim that she'll just die and there are other
people who claim that [it would be] phenomenal if she did rejoin her pod. What
would it be like having a trained captive whale released to the wild? Would
she stay wild? Would she be like a bear that would walk into your living room
and you'd scare her to death? No one really knows. I've been asked to support
the enterprise in some way and I [have] tried to remain neutral on this.
DON GOLDSBERRY TOLD ME THAT HE FELT LOLITA HAD SERVED HER
TIME --THAT WAS HIS PHRASE-- AND THAT IT'S A GOOD IDEA FOR HER TO BE RELEASED.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
Well, I haven't talked with Don about his opinion about the matter. As you
say, he has commented that he thought that it might be interesting to bring her
back or that she had served her time or whatever. I think that all of these
things happen in the due course of time. I don't think that the issue should be
escalated to the point of violence where people are going to say "we're going
to free the whale", [or] whatever.
I am aware that other people with whales in captivity would watch this with,
perhaps, consternation because if it could be proved that the killer whales
could be returned to their native environments successfully, then there might
be a move and the people that would get involved in this kind of thing are not
necessarily supportive of... [the] business or of... animals in captivity and
it could open Pandora's Box. So that's kind of why I remain neutral. I'm aware
of both sides of the ledger. I think there needs to be a balance and I don't
think that if the whale does make it, that it necessarily means other whales
should be released automatically... .
Of course, the whale at Newport, Willie if you will... is in Newport, Oregon,
and the whale was to be released; but the whale has become quite an attraction
there in a new environment and they've been very successful in helping her
recover her health, but nonetheless, she has not been released. And the
question is why and I don't know. There are probably many answers for that.
One of them might be that the whale has become quite an attraction for the
Newport area and the result is that at least at this time, it doesn't appear
that the whale will be released as originally agreed and according to the
contract by which people donated money to have that happen.
DID YOU DONATE MONEY?
I did not. But remember, I'm non-controversial.
DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE TO WHERE YOU HAVE BECOME
You're asking me how I can become... non-controversial. When I was involved in
the capture of whales, I carried a lot of... anxiety with me. I was at great
risk myself not only from the activities, but also from people who were
threatening my life at that time. And I was... trained by the police and
[wore] a bulletproof vest and a number of other things, which is not commonly
known, but that's how violent it became.
And in subsequent years, I've learned that, perhaps, the best way [not to] be a
target for some random act of violence like that is to... go about your life in
an orderly way, but not advertise the kinds of things you're doing and not
promote this sort of thing. If you believe in something, believe it in the
quiet of your own heart at home, but [you don't] have to run out and convince
the world or be a crusader for that activity. If you asked me to crusade for
whales in captivity, I would also decline. It doesn't mean I don't agree with
it; it just means that it's not something I'm willing to do at this time... .
By the same token if you asked me to crusade for the release of the whales,
that I was feeling for them and that it was a good thing to do, I would not do
that. I believe in a balance. I believe that if people can in an orderly way
come across a method by which they can release a whale, then that single event
becomes an interesting experiment, but it doesn't mean that all whales should
be released. And that's what I guard against.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN CAPTIVITY AS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL?
Well, my belief that whales should remain in captivity, at least some numbers,
has to do with my personal value system. And that is that if you looked at man
and you say "well, what... is all of this about and what is the duty?", my
value system is such that I believe that man's job and man's duty or woman's,
if you will, is to learn everything there is to know to gain all knowledge
possible and a part of that is to figure out a way to get off this earth and
colonize another part of the world, other worlds.
Part of that process includes animals and investigating animals for their
uniqueness and the characteristics that they have. Sometimes, this can be done
in captivity because it people with specific talents and specific abilities to
have access to animals they might otherwise get access to. So that's a part of
There's the general public, of course, and they have become acquainted with
killer whales through exhibition and movies and films and, perhaps, the bloom
is off the rose now and the killer whales are almost passé; but still,
they're very exciting for people who first come encountered with them. I keep
hearing from people that they're thunderstruck by this whale because they think
the whale knows them and recognizes them and they almost feel like they're
communicating with the whale. So what does that mean? That means we should
stop having whales in captivity so this event would not take place? No. Does
that mean that people should just go out and see them in boats and pursue them
on Puget Sound and follow around with public address systems and talk about
them? Certainly, that's a new way of viewing the whales and it's very
But all of these make up the whole package. They're all part of the same
thing. We're learning more, we're getting to know more about them and us. So
does that mean we should be tough on the whales or make them perform five times
a day? Does that mean that we should release all whales in captivity? It
doesn't mean any of those things. It means that on balance, an orderly pursuit
of whales and having them in captivity or keeping any animals in captivity...
doing the best job we can or the best environment, I would agree with.
My enterprise was built on a personal love of the whale in a way that I choose
not to describe right now, but I was really in love with that whale. And I
also had an infinity of feeling of kinship and... things that went beyond what
you would say would be a normal area. I wish I could have gone further. I
wish the whale had lived so I could pursue these things. ...[I]f you shut this
all down, then you're doing to deny these breakthrough possibilities... [what I
want is someone] else to come along to pick up that thread and go forward and
make inroads and learn about these animals in a way that I never even dreamed.
And that can't happen unless they have access to whales and other animals.
...JUST ONE LAST QUESTION. HOW DOES THAT RELATE BACK A BIT TO THE BOY AND THE
DOLPHIN? IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE'S A REAL DESIRE ON YOUR PART TO SEE NOT ONLY TO
HAVE YOURSELF COMMUNICATE, BUT TO SHARE THAT COMMUNICATION WITH OTHERS, WHETHER
THEY'RE CHILDREN OR ADULTS. AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK?
As a youngster, I had my share of youngster fantasies and horses were very big
animals and I was a very small child, but I was fascinated with a horse. And I
was reminded of that when my three-year-old daughter... went out into the
pasture and got my quarter horse and got him by the ear and brought him back to
the stable. Totally unconcerned for her own welfare and was able to get the
horse to drop its head down to the point where she could reach the ear and she
got a hold of him. And just in a very light, little way, the horse came along.
Now, what happened here? Did the horse follow along? Did the horse want to go
with her? Did she say something or do something to the horse? I don't know,
but I was fascinated. And then, I remembered about all of my involvement, how
I felt about the animals. And I had this kind of fondness for them. I still
do and I can come into an area where there are dogs and animals and we sort of
relate almost immediately. I can't tell you why, but they will come. I can
beckon them just gently and they'll come right over... .
These are mysterious things that we don't understand, but I equated that
original boy on a dolphin, I kind of got it wound up with a boy on a horse. And
then a dolphin was in the water and I... loved the water and I thought it
wouldn't be fabulous if I had my own horse that would take me around in the
ocean? And that dream stayed with me. And if I repeated it to people, they
treated me [as if I was] half-crazy or [just had] childhood fantasies. When I
became eighteen years old and still had the fantasy, they considered me
differently. Like, he's okay, but he has these... fantasies and we'll just let
him... we'll ignore them. When it actually happened, all was forgiven and all
was forgotten. Gee, what a great man. What a tremendous adventure, what a
wonderful thing. Gosh, we knew it all, Ted. We were with you from the very
beginning. But none of them had that vision. None of them saw that boy on the
dolphin. None of them knew that they would do it and none of them went to the
lengths that I went to make it happen.
WILL YOU EVER GO BACK IN THE WATER?
Not officially. ... I'd get a boat and go into the islands periodically and I
hear their speakers talking about Ted Griffin and all the activities of the
whales and I hear them say well, that... man shouldn't be that close to the
whales. Then, I can hear them saying well, gee, how come he's still alongside
of the whales? It's because I know what whales do underwater and my boat
follows the whales and I ride with them.
YOU SWIM WITH THEM, DON'T YOU?
People want to go out with me, they're desperate to go out because I put them
in the middle of whales. I know where the whales hang out and I know where
they swing on the tides and... I had some children on board... well, they were
eight ten-year-old girls and they were over the railing and they were squealing
at the whales and the whales came over to the boat and they were squealing back
and this big turmoil. The little whales waving their flippers and under the
bow of the boat and on... Those are things people will never forget; but you
know ... they're not supposed to know that what else happened to happen. As
far as they're concerned, they called the whales and the whales came over to
the boat and that's all they have to know. That will catapult them forward to
maybe the next step ...say where I am clairvoyant with a whale, maybe I ought
to try some more of this. And then, they'll get their own breakthroughs.
.ARE YOU SWIMMING WITH THEM?
No, not officially. I'm not allowed anywhere near the whales.
Well, it's official. You're not supposed to be near the whales, especially me
because you know, I might capture one. I wouldn't... that's not allowed.
Don't know. ...[W]ho's protecting the whales these days?
DO YOU MEAN IT'S AGAINST THE LAW FOR YOU TO...?
Yeah. Now, I'm so old and over the hill that nobody would suspect. Would
they? I think we'd better leave it there.