Although I am happy to hear that so many people had the opportunity to take a close-up look at gray whales, I was otherwise appalled by what I read in your article, "Whales in a River" (July 28). All this jet-skiing, fire hosing, noise-making, etc. sounds to me way too much like a bunch of humans having a gay-old, adrenaline-raising time in the guise of trying to "help" someone.
I have seen these whales up close myself, and I have also read as much as I could about them. I contend that if any animal on Earth is intelligent, it is the whale. And in any case every animal here has the intelligence to know what is best for its own survival. Whales have come up the rivers before. Your own article says that the Yurok know of other instances and they've been here thousands of years. When I was much younger a humpback whale, a much larger species, came up the Sacramento River, much further from the ocean than our local gray whale, and it also stayed for weeks. All this same kind of harassment was tried for "helping" the whale leave again, to no avail. They called the whale "Humphrey," and a very well-known children's book is written about it. The point is that Humphrey got back to sea just fine with no help at all. And if people will leave this whale alone, she will use her intelligence to go out to sea when she's ready. I challenge you to come up with a story where the whale died "stuck" in the fresh-water habitat. That is, of course, where the animal wasn't deliberately killed by people as in the horrendous incident chronicled by Farley Mowat in A Whale for the Killing.
We (meaning humans) should get off our high horse in our relations with other animals. If it is so important to us to be the "smartest" ones then perhaps we could focus all those smarts on solving our own problems (there's a bunch of ‘em!) and leave the other animals alone.
Karen Shepherd, Arcata