Group to continue the legacy of The Whale Man

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Dr. Jon Lien. Telegram file photo

Dr. Jon Lien, best known to people in the province for his scientific work with whales, was known to fishermen simply as "The Whale Man."

Lien passed away in April after a lengthy illness, leaving a large legacy in Newfoundland and Labrador. For fishing people, that legacy is about releasing whales from their fishing gear.

According to a news release, a group of friends and former colleagues have begun raising money to keep Lien's legacy alive through the Dr. Jon Lien Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will help graduate students in biology and psychology at Memorial University carry on scientific work on projects of interest to Jon Lien.

Beginning in 1979, Lien pioneered methods to release whales trapped in fishing gear, including his development of acoustic alarms that produced an 80 per cent reduction in whale collisions.

His work earned him unequalled respect with both fishermen and scientists, and saved fishermen money.

In the days of cod traps, lost or badly damaged gear were very costly events to fishermen. Lien was as interested in saving the gear as he was in saving the animals, or as he put it, making it "a win-win situation for fisherman and whale."

"Jon was always on stand-by when the whales were around," said Ted Rowe, a member of the fundraising committee. "He often drove all night to reach a trapped whale. He was totally committed to saving the animals and saving the gear for the fishermen. We're hoping that many of the people he helped, and others who value his contributions, will consider donating to the Lien Fund."

Donations can be sent to the Dr. Jon Lien Memorial Scholarship Fund at Memorial University, St. John's, or you can donate online at www.mun.ca by clicking "Alumni" and then "Donate Online." Donations to the fund are tax deductible.

Organizations: Jon Lien Memorial Scholarship Fund, Lien Fund

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's

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  • Tina
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I grew up in Portugal Cove-St.Philip's near Mr.Lien and his family as his children were in the same age group as my brother and I. He always seemed to have time to show us fun things about his favorite animals and the respect that he had for these beautiful beings. He was very proud to be accepted into the newfoundland community and will be greatly missed for his tremendous knowledge base. I was saddened to hear of his passing during a recent trip home to see family but am glad to see that his legacy for helping otheres will be passed on to future generations of upcoming scholars.

  • Ed
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Although I never met Dr. Lien I had the pleasure of playing rugby with one of his sons. This young man, extremely physically fit, said he had trouble going to sea with his Father beacause the work was simply too hard for too long. Dr. Lien's efforts for Newfoundland's wildlife is an incredible achievement. He truly seemed like an incredible man.