The Story of Ethelbert!



The sad remains of Ethelbert


Portland's Ethelbert

One morning three weeks ago, milk wagon drivers and early risers in Portland, Oregon, saw a huge dark marine shape diving about in Columbia Slough, adjacent to the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. "Sportsmen" started shooting at it until Governor Julius L. Meier issued orders against it. By the end of a week the creature had been identified as a small killer whale which had wandered 100 miles up from the sea. Press and populace named it Ethelbert. The Oregon Humane Society decided Ethelbert would never get back to sea, should be painlessly destroyed by dynamite. Before the dynamiting could take place, last week one Edward O. Lessard and his son Joseph went out in a motorboat, harpooned Ethelbert, then lost him. Others grappled Ethelbert up, put him on display. Portland police arrested the Lessards for disturbing the peace, confiscated Ethelbert's remains.

From Time Magazine - November 1931

The End of Ethelbert

Up from the sea 100 mi. to Columbia Slough, adjacent to the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, swam a small killer whale last autumn. There he was stranded. The press and populace of Portland, Oregon, made much of him, christened him Ethelbert. While the populace gaped and riflemen took pot shots, Ethelbert was discussed and debated by the Oregon Humane Society, which finally decided he would never get back to sea and therefore should be painlessly executed with dynamite. Before that could be done, one Edward O. Lessard and his son Joseph went out in a motorboat, harpooned Ethelbert, then lost him. Others grappled him up, put him on display. Indignant Portland police confiscated Ethelbert's remains, arrested the Lessards. An indignant Portland judge fined them $200 each for "killing a fish" with weapons other than hook & line. Last week Ethelbert was only a skeleton and a memory, but the Lessards were still trying to escape payment of their $400 fines. With one stroke Circuit Judge Hall S. Lusk, to whom they appealed, erased the blot from Ethelbert's escutcheon, wiped out the Lessard fines. Like almost everybody else, he knew, and explained to the jury in directing an acquittal, that a whale, which breathes air and suckles its young, is no fish.

From Time Magazine - January 1932

The Christmas Tale of What Happened to Ethelbert

Check out The Ogden Standard-Examiner from December 1931 for more information and pictures. According to the weight cited in the article the calf must have been about two years old. Poor Ethelbert probably got separated from his family and didn't have much chance anyway.

Special thanks to Ernie Fink who let me know of Ethelbert!




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