Reynolds Channel Whale Event/Incident Action Plan

November 18, 2017

Reynolds Channel Whale Event/Incident Action Plan.

I need to say it was an honor and a privilege to be part of this operation, it was an incredible opportunity. I had no idea how much preparation, man hours and hard work it takes to go from start to finish on a situation like this. 

 

The start time for briefing was 6am and mission start time was 7am to 6pm.

7am all boats leave dock and confirm entering zones for survey by name and number.

Once survey is complete, confirm with survey control where you are to proceed.

Command will confirm message and give further instructions or if whale was found.

 

Mission – Find the whale via four search teams on different boats. The vessel names are “SHIP OF FOOLS” (with DEC NYS ECON PO Laczi, Paul Sieswerda director of Gotham Whale and I). “Never Enough”, “SPLASH 1” and “SPLASH 2”. When whale is found, search teams back away and the herding teams take over and heard the whale to the AB Bridge with the search teams backing up the herding teams.

 

Agencies involved - Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Gotham Whale, NOAA, SPLASH, The Nature Conservancy, WCS, International Fund for Animal Welfare, US Coast Guard, East Rockaway Fire Dept. Fire Boat, Town of Hempstead Bay Constable, Nassau County Police Marine Bureau boats, Nassau County Police Aviation Helicopter N604PD, DEC NYS ECON Police in three boats and NC State University.

This was a very big group effort and all resources were ready to help.

 

The search team - Responsible to survey a specific area of the inner bays and Reynolds channel from AB Bridge to LIRR Bridge for Reynolds the Humpback Whale. If the whale is observed, stop survey and monitor animal from a distance. Call in, report the sighting with location name and number, and include latitude and longitude. Record animal behavior and dive duration. Indicate direction of travel and depth of water in the area. If not, text findings every 15 minutes to survey coordinator.

My detail was to survey the numbered areas on the "East Bay Crew" map below. 7-Hewlett Bay, 8-Auerbach Canal, 6-Swift creek and Ramscal Channel and 5-Broad Channel. On the SOF was DEC NYS ECON Police Office Evan Laczi, Gotham Whale director Paul Sieswerda and I.

(Photo Credit AMCS)

OFF SUBJECT and a very good fact - DEC NYS ENCON PO Evan Laczi that is on my boat for this operation was the Captain of the first vessel from Wednesdays "Operation Reynolds" to try and push "Reynolds the whale" out to the open ocean. Here is video PO Evan Laczi in action from Wednesday

Herding team – DEC NYS ECON Two boats and the NCPD. Their object Motivate the whale to continue a forward direction west through the Atlantic Beach Bridge and through the East Rockaway Inlet into the ocean.

 

Support and command - Ensure the safety of the responders, the whale and the public. Communicate with federal, state and local authorities to ensure information is shared. Work with NOAA, NYS DEC , and local support  through a Joint Information Center (JIC) to communicate information the public.

 

Mission started - 7am it was beautiful out! Not a breath of wind, nice sunrise and for this time of year somewhat warm, it’s going to be a good day! How can it not be there are a slew of people trying to help a whale get out of a bad situation.

The area I am searching I-KNOW-WELL, above and below the water. I know where I can go with my boat and where I can’t at different tide/water levels. I also could figure out the same where the whale can go and can’t go, the whale and my boat can get in and out in the same depth of water and this helps me judge where I think I should look in my area.

First area Hewlett bay, my home town of Bay Park and its where I dock my boat! I run over to the NCPD Marine Bureau Marina Cove. The humpback was in the cove on Monday it might go back? The whale is taking breaths every 5 minutes, so you need to go to an area and watch for a blow for at least 10 minutes. This went on all day, running through my survey areas back and forth, in and out of channels and back bays looking for a lost whale called Reynolds.

Around 900am I see Nassau County Police Helicopter N604PD flying around and I hear on the radio they are locating whales from the air that are out in the ocean. HELO N604PD is directing the AMSC Boat to those whales. The AMSC boat get to the whale, takes a photo of them and then makes sure the whales they are with is or isn’t Reynolds the Whale. We can see the helicopters location and hear the communication on the radio. No matches, the operation is still on!

While this is going on, Gotham Whale has its own support team. On land we have Tim O’Connor and Trish Minogue Collins at the AB Bridge giving us details of what’s happening there. Karen Dinan and others are hitting us up on Facebook with updates and whale happenings that are going on out in the ocean. Catherine Granton from Gotham Whale is working social media informing us of anything new on that front. Countless others reaching out supporting us via all social media outlets on helping Reynolds the whale, Thanks to all who did!  

Its 1030am the weather has gone downhill, wind has picking up the bay is getting choppy, the clouds moved and its getting cold! Got a text from control, all teams are standing down it appears the whale is not in the area! Mission is called off at 11am, time to make it back to the dock. 

 

Let’s hope the Humpback Whale called Reynolds is out to Sea and never comes back! The last known report of “Reynolds the Whale” was reported by Tim O’Connor and I yesterday off Magnolia Pier in Long Beach and let’s hope it stays that way! BUT…Just in case!! Gotham Whale and others will continue to monitor the area and hope we have nothing to report!

 

UPDATE - December 19th 2017. Reynolds the whale has not been seen in the back bays and waterways of Western Nassau County, nor since the rescue attempt, in the ocean. It is with 100% confidence i can say this whale high tailed it out of this area and that's a happy ending! 

 

No impactful photos because we didn’t find the whale and it’s all ok by me!

 

On a side note -While we were out we did see a few seals and one was very close to the boat.

 

 

No Fluke for the Reynolds the whale but here are the Dorsals. Please take photos of Humpbacks seen off the beach or boats in the LI/NYC/NNJ area and send them to Paul Seiswerda at paul@gothamwhale.org. Paul will reply with the exact directions on what he needs for the sighting...there's a beer in it for you. NO REALLY! 

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