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Remember Humphrey the humpback whale? Humphrey became a national celebrity in 1985 when he made his way into the San Francisco Bay and headed up the Sacramento River into fresh water which, of course, could have been fatal for him. Each evening a large local television audience would tune in for the latest update on Humphrey’s plight. Then national media coverage began and the whole country watched the ensuing story.

Many experts and well-meaning lay people attempted to get Humphrey to turn around and go back to the saltwater environment of the ocean, but nothing worked. Several weeks of being trapped in the fresh water of the Sacramento Delta began taking a toll on Humphrey. His skin was graying and he was becoming more and more listless. None of the traditional herding techniques were working and the world held its breath as Humphrey appeared to be dying.

As a last ditch effort, Dr. Bernie Krause, who had recorded the sounds humpback whales made while feeding suggested using them as a possible way to lure Humphrey out. No one knew if this would work, but it was their last shot at saving him. A speaker was lowered over the side of a boat, the sounds of other humpback whales were played, and everyone stood quietly while the eerie songs reverberated through the hull. Suddenly, Humphrey emerged from the water at the bow of the ship right where the speaker was playing, and gazed at the startled crew. The Captain quickly started down the river with Humphrey following close behind.

As they approached the San Francisco Bay, and the water gained in salinity, Humphrey was visibly excited and began diving deeply to everyone’s delight and amazement. It was like the climax to a Hollywood film. The air was filled with helicopters and the river banks were lined with thousands of spectators all cheering Humphrey on to freedom. Though the crew lost sight of him that night, they picked him back up in the morning and led him out through the Golden Gate Bridge, to the freedom of the Pacific Ocean where he promptly headed south to parts unknown. (3)

Don’t you think that’s interesting? They failed using various methods to lure Humphrey to turn around. Nothing worked until he heard the recorded sounds of other humpback whales. I guess it takes a whale to talk to whales!

God comes to earth to speak our language.

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