The whale at Wade’s Shore

My husband and I are of Shackleford Banks heritage and raised our children on Harkers Island. Early one summer in the 1970s, my husband got word that a whale had come ashore on the ocean side of Shackleford Banks. He was anxious to take our son, Jon, who was 6 or 8 at the time, over to see the whale. It had come ashore near the west end of Shackleford near Beaufort Inlet, known by the old-timers as Wade's Shore.

They took off through West Bay on the north side of Harkers Island, under the draw bridge, through the Middle Marsh and finally to Wade's Shore. They walked through winding paths of dense maritime forest, where it was spooky, because many trees made it a shadowy place, and there were wild boars, horses, sheep and raccoons. After walking with salty sand sticking to their feet and legs, plus green or yellow-head flies, ticks and mosquitoes, they reached the ocean side and the sun again.

Some island men were already there. Jon said the whale was as high as a two-story house, 40 to 60 feet long. He felt the skin, checked out the eyes, looked inside the mouth. The men determined that it was a right whale that had probably gotten sick and beached itself. Scientists arrived to cut out sections of the animal that could determine what caused it to come ashore. They stayed there with the island men and the scientists, walking from one end of the animal to the other.

I am so glad that my husband realized that it would be an experience our son could relate to his own children.

Ms. Leslie R. Rose, Harkers Island, Carteret-Craven Electric

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