In a save-the-whale battle that grows stranger each day, scientists poured strawberry Kool-Aid from a helicopter today to dye an ice ridge that stands between open water and the path being cut for two California gray whales.
With the whales within three miles of freedom, the powder was dropped from the window of the hovering chopper to highlight fissures where scientists plan to insert sonar to check for cavities or weaknesses that can be dynamited.
Also today, the one-of-a-kind Archimedean Screw Tractor, fresh from a successful test, was readied for a spin out on the ice. Its oil industry boosters said the $650,000 contraption will create a long, one-lane swimming pool for the two whales.
“We can clear a continuous track and we can clear it quickly,” predicted Mark Fraker, a whale biologist for Standard Alaska Production Co.