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Mechanicsburg man has a whale of a passion - abc27 WHTM

Mechanicsburg man has a whale of a passion

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    At first glance, it just looks like another beautiful farm in Cumberland county. But this 50 acre spread near Boiling Springs has roots in academia.It's Dickinson College Farm. 12 acres of organic vegetables and 18 acres of animal pasture with supervised student employees and volunteers tackling the daily chores.Farm Manager Jenn Halpin says working on the farm has many benefits for the students involved."I think, through the work in the hot sun and in all the elements, whether it's a beautif...More >>
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When Dan Knaub talks about humpback whales, he does so on a first name basis. As founder of The Whale Video Company, his connection to the 50-ton marine mammals is personal. With pride in his eyes, he shared the life history of one of his favorite whales friends in the ocean, Salt.

"She was the very first whale named. She's at least 44 years old," he said. "Salt has 12 calves and 10 grandcalves, that we know of."

Salt is one of more than 500 humpback whales named by those who observe and study their behavior on a daily basis.

"Salt was named for her white dorsal fin. Looked like somebody sprinkled salt on her back," he explained.

It's a friendship the Mechanicsburg resident developed over 16 years of video taping whale watching trips off the coast of New England.

In total, Knaub estimates he spent more than 68-thousand hours on the water taping the whales. That's enough time to build a video archive of more than 8-thousand hours for his whale video company, an enterprise he never envisioned 25 years ago. That's when he left a secure job in banking to go watch whales. After his very first trip, he was hooked. He says that kind of reaction is typical of many new watchers.

"It's the event of a lifetime for many, many of them," he said. " And I believe they become instant fans of whales."

His videos are like a family album to him, with each whale triggering fond memories. 31-year-old Colt is one of them.

"Colt's famous for coming up to the boat," Knaub explained. "In fact, he was voted the friendliest whale in the world."

But Knaub worries because his huge archive currently exists only on hundreds of aging master tapes. So, he's seeking sponsors to help with the expense of saving them.

"My objective right now is to preserve, to digitize and annotate the entire archive and find a home for it, where educators and researchers, around the world, can work with it," he explained.

Individuals wanting to help can" adopt a whale" at Knaub's website, www.whalevideo.com. For a 30 dollar fee, sponsors receive a DVD and family history of the adopted whale.

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