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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 12, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, September 12, 1973 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 33 NorJhern Canada's Beluga whales are curious, playful and gregarious creatures. That's the assessment of University of Lethbridge psy- chology professor Ian Wishaw. And Dr. Wishaw knows whereof he speaks: he recently spent a month in the tundra and muskeg north of Churchill, Manitoba, observ- ing the Beluga whales in their summer playground. Along with four other people, (two of whom, Judy Hilland and Don Shattuck are attending the U of L this semester) he participated in the summer study in an attempt to gather more infor- mation about the habits and characteristics of the Beluga. The research was conducted under the auspices of 'Project Jonah', an international organization funded by private donors which is attempting to obtain inter- Lethbridge professor studies Beluga whales _ national agreement for a 10- year moratorium on whaling. In addition, the organization is dedicated to discovering and compiling all manner of infor- mation about whales. Many species of whales are now threatened by extinction, as a result of their wholesale slaughter by man. The Narwhale and the Beluga are two whale species we can claim as distinctly Canadian. The research project was also partially financed by the Manitoba and the federal governments. Author Farley Mowat, one of the directors of the Cana- dian 'fin' of the organization, invited Dr. Wishaw to go on the summer excursion. MANY PROBLEMS Sitting on a raft in a river observing friendly Beluga whales cavort isn't quite as simple a task as it sounds. In the first place, very little of the reseachers' time was spent sloping through water, thrashing through tundra, clammering over riverbed rocks, navigating rafts and canoes through choppy cur- rents were just a few of the activities they had to sur- vive before they actually found a plae where the whales were readily ob- servable Fog had made travelling dangerous at the beginning of the trip out of Churchill and several polar bears churlishly invaded the camp, making off with such foodstuffs as figs and brown sugar. Needless to say, nobody argued much when the huge white bears reared on hind legs to glare proprietarily about their camp. SHALLOW WATER Once the researchers final- ly found their observation bay of shallow water at the mouth of the Seal problems were still not over. Because there were literal- ly thousands of whales summering in the shallow bay, it was very difficult to observe their activities through the muddy water they were constantly churning into an even murkier consistency. Consequently, says Dr. Wishaw, it was sometimes virtually impossible for the group to take pictures of the mammals in action, even though they came within one or two feet of the researchers' canoes and rafts. "We still don't know that much about their says Dr. Wishaw, who nevertheless can do a handy imitation of some of the chir- ping, snorting, blowing and bellowing sounds whales make. "We found, out that if we sat very still, and didn't make too much noise, the whales would come very close to our he adds. "One of the people on the trip played a trumpet, and they really seemed to like that noise." Curious as they are, there's one sound which will scatter a pod (yes, like peas, whales travel in groups called pods) of whales instantly: the "put- put" of a motor boat. Dr. Wishaw says the noise reminds whales of past oc- casions when they were chas- ed by hunters in motor boats. Belugas live to an average age of 30 years: hunting whales in Canadian waters was halted only one year ago. VERY LITTLE KNOWN Dr. Wishaw says further studies to gather more detail- ed and in-depth information on Canadian whales are urgently needed. Russia, he says, leads the way in whale research and has compiled ex- tensive information on their migration patterns and behaviour. The psychologist describes an adult Beluga whale as weighing as much as pounds', at a length of about 15 feet. The young calves are a brown color at birth. As they mature, they change gradual- ly to mottled color and finally 'o white when adult. Aside from their strange mixtures of vocalizing, Dr. Wishaw says the whales amuse themselves by out of the water on their tails. To make this year's expidi- tion worthwhile, Dr. Wishaw says a research team would have to return to the same area next summer when the ice is out. "Now we know exactly where to go to observe the whales." he claims, "and we wouldn't waste time looking tor a new spot. We know what to expect of the Beluga and realize that, to get a better idea of their activities, we would have to watch them un- der water. We would need to do more diving and to observe the females calving, one of the reasons they seek the warmer water in the first place." The Belugas' eating habits also warrant more study, he says. The researchers weren't sure il the whales were 'living off their blubber' while at the Seal River, or whether they actually found food on the tloor of the bay. The iormer speculation seems more likely, since there may not have been enough food in the area to sup- port such a large convention of Belugas. DR. LAWRENCE GOLDING Drug problem sweeps sports By MURRAY OLDERMAN KENT, Ohio drug epidemic is sweeping sports, according to a leading researcher in physical education. "I don't think there's any top rate athlete in the world who is not or has not been on amphetamines or says Dr. Lawrence Golding. He heads the applied physiology laboratory here at Kent State University and in the low-slung concrete block Structure just off Summit Road at the edge of this bucolic campus. Dr. Golding has conducted significant tests on the effects of drugs on athletic performance. It is important that we define the two major areas of drugs in sports. (The in- cidence of athletes on the so- called "hard" and addictive drugs is minimal and because of the deleterious effects on users certainly wouldn't be equated with championship performance.) We are talking about 1) amphetamine, a central ner- vous system stimulant and by far the most common drug in use among athletes, and 2) anabolic steroids, designed to promote weight gain and muscular strength. Golding says flatly, "Amphetamine is the most prevalent drug at the Olym- pic Games. But the only reason they take it is that it's a pepper-upper. I can tell you that from my research." More than 10 years ago. he had already done a study on amphetamines as they reflected on athletic perfor- mance before the amphetamines in their various forms became the popular street drugs. "There had been a loosely controlled study at Harvard." he notes, "which said that amphetamines did improve performance. Another study at Springfield College showed they made no difference at all. And my study showed that amphetamines definitely do not enhance physical perfor- mance." Then why should an athlete bothei with them? "He finds himself prey to the need to use contends Golding, "because his peers are doing it and he had better do it to keep up. It's funny how athletes respond to official statements. When the IOC (International Olympic Committee) comes out against amphetamines, the athletes say, 'If they didn't do any Rood, why would the IOC be against "There's an epidemic among champions. They're concerned and not in favor of what they're doing but they do it because they feel they to." How do you prevent the use of amphetamines? Urine tests to reveal them are stigmatic and present a staggering logistics problem. Education? Golding is blandly realistic. "As long as you strive for excellence, well They're looking for an edge." JUSTIFICATION In his own theses on the sub- ject, Golding has written, "Increased psychological preparedness appears to be the only rational justification for the use of amphetamines." Only a recognition of the morally reprehensible effects of drug usage in sports (plus potential physical harm from excesses) can curb the epidemic. shrugs Golding, "never worked in keeping us from drinking whiskey." Currently, Golding is ab- sorbed in a continuing study of the effects of anabolic steroids, which are popular among weight lifters and have also been used by track men, wrestlers and football players. Here, too, the evidence of their effect on weight and strtength seems to be equivocal. "The anabolic says Golding, "are supposed to atrophy the teses, make you lose your hair, lose your sex drive, but I've only heard of it definitely working that way once, in the case of a black weight lifter." He is conducting his study, which will be concluded the last week of August, with a group of 16 body builders. He took two of them off because he perceived what might be harmful effects. "Most of he says, "are eager to take it because they want to build themselves up, but they're scared, and here we do it under the best possible conditions of care and testing. We give them 10 milligrams of Dianobol (most popular com- mercial preparation) every day for 12 weeks." Ten previous studies have been done with steroids. Six concluded they help in size and strength. "But is it lean body muscle they're putting asks Golding, who has accumulated an array of sophisticated testing ap- paratus in his maze of a laboratory (underwater weighing machine, residual volume analyzer both to measure a person's Sears Romantic By Night Play-proof By Day! lull! g Portobello Spanish Suite Sofa, Chair and Rocker 'Portobello', covered in soft Black Naugahyde vinyl, just wipe clean! Deeply tufted foam seats and backs; spring based seats. 'Carved' sides are really mar-resistant polystyrene. Hardwood frames. 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