interviewted griffin
THE FIRST MAN TO ACQUIRE AND TRAIN A KILLER WHALE, NAMU, IN 1962



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 DESCRIBE THAT?

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 underwater.

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 them anyway.

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 the cave.

[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 the net.

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 all began.

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 agent.

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] me around.

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 friends.

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 individual.

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] prohibitive.

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 functioning correctly.

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 affair.

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 HAPPENED.

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... .

WHY?

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 deal.

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 question?

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 THAT.

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 it properly.

HMM.

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 her pod.

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 NON-CONTROVERSIAL?

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 it.

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 inspiring.

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.

BY WHOM?

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.

BY WHOM?

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.




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