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Whale Blubber

Special Report: ENTERPRISE: Wit's End


It has been a while since the U.S. had any kind of serious whaling industry--over 80 years, in fact. But that hasn't stopped the Commerce Dept. from having this elaborate whale-measuring guideline on its books. Why would the government care about whale dimensions? Something to do with satisfying the reporting requirements....Sound familiar?


Part 351--Whaling authority: Article 5, 62 Stat. 1718, sec. 2-14, 64 Stat. 421-425; 16 U.S.C. 916 et seq. 351.63 Measurement of whales

a) Whales must be measured when at rest on deck or platform after the hauling out wire and grasping device have been released, by means of a tape-measure made of a non-stretching material. The zero end of the tape-measure shall be attached to a spike or stable device to be positioned on the deck or platform abreast of one end of the whale. Alternatively, the spike may be stuck into the tail fluke abreast of the apex of the notch. The tape-measure shall be held taut in a straight line parallel to the deck and the whale's body, and other than in exceptional circumstances, along the whale's back, and read abreast of the other end of the whale. The ends of the whale for measurement purposes shall be the tip of the upper jaw, or in sperm whales, the most forward part of the head, and the apex of the notch between the tail flukes.

b) Measurements shall be logged to the nearest foot or 0.1 metres. That is to say, any whale between 75 feet 6 inches and 76 feet 6 inches shall be logged as 76 feet, and any whale between 76 feet 6 inches and 77 feet 6 inches shall be logged as 77 feet. Similarly, any whale between 10.15 metres and 10.25 metres shall be logged as 10.2 metres, and any whale between 10.25 metres and 10.35 metres shall be logged as 10.3 metres. The measurement of any whale which falls on an exact half foot or 0.05 metre shall be logged at the next half foot, or 0.05 metre, e.g. 76 feet 6 inches precisely shall be logged as 77 feet and 10.25 metres precisely shall be logged as 10.3 metres.

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