A tale of a whale in trouble, a shy fisherman and a proud papa
When Mark “Beak” Anello went to sea on his fishing vessel Cape Omaney on Friday May 4, he had just a 24 hour weather window to pull his crab pots. He is a fourth generation fisherman, and the Anellos are pillars of the fishing community.
But when he saw some unusual buoys near his crab string he went to investigate and found a whale tangled in fishing gear. He instantly decided to try and free it.
“That’s just the kind of guy he is, “ said his father Tony Anello of Bodega Bay and owner of the Spud Point Crab Company. “He’s an animal lover. He’s got pet dogs, cats and a cow.”
It was a dangerous undertaking, especially at first when the whale seemed to fight off an approach. But then the whale got very quiet and cooperated. Anello had no idea this was June, a whale gaining in fame since April 17 when she was first found to be entangled in fishing gear.
He had his first mate, Pete Miller, take the tiller while he and his other crewman Lynn “Cowboy” McGowen started cutting the whale free. It was tedious process of grabbing the lines with hooked poles, one by one, and cutting them. It took an hour and a half of concentrated work. The whale lay quiet.
“Something was helping both of them,” said Tony Anello devoutly.
When the whale was free at last, she swam completely around Anello’s boat, then surfaced.
“Like she was saying thank you,” said Tony Anello.
A smaller animal was accompanying it, Anello didn’t get a good look at it so didn’t know if it was a baby whale or a dolphin. Anello thought nothing of the incident, went on to pull his crab pot and then back to port to deliver his crabs to his father’s company.
“I saw these weird buoys and asked Pete,’What’s that?’ Then he told me what they had done. I told him don’t you know that was a famous whale you saved? Mark is very, very shy and didn’t want me to call anyone until I pointed out fishermen get enough bad publicity, they could use some good publicity. The public needs to know we really care about the ocean and everything in it,” said Tony.
Television stations sent news crews and the flurry of attention finally drove Mark to retreat to his ranch while he waits for the winds to settle and he can get back to sea, and where there is no phone reception.
“He wants me to be his sort of press agent,” Tony Anello said. “So I’m speaking for him.”
Under federal regulations, no one is supposed to interfere with a marine mammal, and what Mark Anello did could be punished by stiff fines, except, happily, there is a good Samaritan clause that protects him, and allowed him to save the stricken animal’s life. As for his papa?
“I am so proud of him,” said Tony Anello with a big smile.
Read more about June the Whale HERE.