Canaveral Pilot Capt. Richard Grimison was recognized at the Marine Resources Council’s Northern Right Whale Monitoring Program annual volunteer luncheon on April 4, 2015. The recognition is given annually to the Volunteer of the Year, however this year, the award was designated as the “Prudent Mariner Award.” Capt. Grimison serves as the Pilot’s contact person for the Right Whale Program and Right Whale Program Director Julie Albert recounted the story of a “close call” on January 24, 2015 near the Port Canaveral ship channel. Late that afternoon a mother and calf were spotted close to the beach just south of the Port Canaveral south jetty. The first of four outbound cruise ships was already underway in the channel when Ms. Albert contacted Capt. Grimison and others to get the word out to vessels in the harbor. Capt. Grimison was already on one of the other ships waiting to depart the port and he quickly contacted the other Pilots and the Harbormasters and let them know the location of the whales.
The Pilots on the outbound ships enlisted the ship bridge teams to keep a look out for the whales and by the time the third ship was outside the jetties and heading to sea, the whales were spotted on the north side and well clear of the ship channel. The Pilot on the fourth ship out also had a confirmed sighting of the pair clear of the channel on the north side. Capt. Grimison was able to immediately pass on the information to Ms. Albert who had been monitoring the whale’s progress from the beach at Jetty Park. In accepting the award, Capt. Grimison gave the credit to the whales for doing such a great job in keeping clear of the ships, apparently crossing the channel between the second and third ships out! He also accepted on behalf of all of the Canaveral Pilots and stressed the importance of good communication as was the case on January 24. Ms. Albert took the opportunity to let the volunteers know how critically important their sighting reports are to make sure the information is passed on to Pilots and others in the Port who need the information to help avoid the whales! The Right Whale Program has been sponsored for many years by the Canaveral Port Authority. A second source of funding for the program has recently been lost so the Program needs help! Donations to the Right Whale Program can be made to the Marine Resources Council, 3275 Dixie Hwy NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905. Phone number: (321) 725-7775 and web site: http://www.mrcirl.org.