We received a fine comment from the mildly anonymous Phil D. today in response to a blog post we made some time ago about the killer whale Namu’s time at Pier 56.  The link is

That intrepid Boeing retiree Werner Lengenhager's capture of the Namu's sidewalk sign.  (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)
That intrepid Boeing retiree Werner Lengenhager’s capture of the Namu’s sidewalk sign. (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)

Phil’s comment follows.

“2013, and 1966 was a long time ago…but what an outstanding experience in my life.  I was privileged to be hired by Ted Griffin to work with Namu at Smith Cove in the early part of 1966 until Namu was brought to Seattle.  Then, I was given a wireless microphone and said to present demonstrations of Namu to the public…which I did many times that summer.

“I really came to love Namu with the closeness of feeding, petting, scratching his back, sides and belly.  Many times I was able to get very close to Namu while feeding him with a slice of salmon.  I was 21 at the time, and really enjoyed the people who came to see the show.


“At times, Namu, when demonstrating a high jump, would go back into the water without hardly a splash.  Other times, however, he would come down  kinda falling over so as to completely soak the ones in the way of the huge wave & spray!  One incident in the evening took place with no one there, but two men and a lady who were dressed to the hilt for a night on the town.  For them, I’m sure it was as memorable an evening as it was for me.   When I cautioned them they’d be safer from getting wet if they went up the ramp and observed from there, they decided to take a chance and see at float level.   You guessed it…it was the greatest of Namu’s jokes on the crowd…the got entirely drenched.  Their reaction???  They all, after catching their breath from the cold water drench, broke out laughing, and even grateful for this fantastic memory…seeing the huge body of Namu nearly leap completely out of the water (after having carefully popped his head out of the water prior to the jump, scoped out the situation…including the three observers and the ball held out high above the water by yours truly).  Then, with no time to react, they saw Namu falling toward them!  You can well imagine the rest…as I see it still clearly in my minds eye.

“Thanks for the memories, Namu and Seattle”

This appeared in part first in the Seattle Times for August 23, 1970.
This appeared in part first in the Seattle Times for August 23, 1970.


One thought on “NAMU ADDENDUM”

  1. It all began with Namu. In October 1965 Griffin captured Shamu to be his mate but realized she was too young so he sold her to Sea World in San Diego for $25,000. In 1967 he sold two more orcas to Sea World – Ramu and Kilroy – and George Millay made Griffin promise he wouldn’t sell orcas to any other aquarium or park in California. So now all the fishermen in British Columbia went into the whale capture business, resulting in killer whales being shipped to aquariums and oceanariums all over the world.

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