Bev Hoskinson vividly remembers the January 1997 day when she first saw the baby gray whale.
While on her morning walk, she had taken a break and was “quietly contemplating the scenery” along the north jetty at Marina del Rey, when she “heard a soft shushing sound that I had never head before.”
She said she walked to the other side of the jetty and stared down.
“I saw a little spout of water,” she recalled in a recent interview. “It wasn’t a seal, it wasn’t a porpoise.”
About the time she realized it was a baby gray whale, a runner came by, and went reported it to lifeguards.
Hoskinson, who handles charitable contributions for Boeing employees, she went on with her work day that included a meeting with representatives of Santa Monica Baykeeper, an organization that works to protect Santa Monica and San Pedro bays.
She said she told Terry Tamminen, the group’s founder, what she had seen that morning and he took her out on his boat to go see the whale, which by then had attracted news helicopters and whale rescue people.
“There was all this ‘what to do, what to do’ going on,” she said, as everyone tried to help.
SeaWorld entered the picture and on Jan. 11, 1997, moved the 14 1/2-foot-long week-old gray whale by truck to the San Diego park. On Jan. 13, Judi Jones, a registered nurse, was director of operations for Friends of the Sea Lion in Laguna Beach, died. Out respect for her, the SeaWorld crew caring for the whale named her J.J.
Hoskinson recently learned from Greg Lucero about the sculpture of J.J. being created for Kellogg Park at La Jolla Shores.
“It’s a wonderful thing that La Jollans are doing this,” she said, noting that she also has been involved in a campaign for a landmark sculpture. In her role with Boeing charities, she helped in the process of getting a life-sized statue of Donald Douglas Sr., the founder of Douglas Aircraft Co., and his dog placed next to a DC-3 that sits at the gate of the Santa Monica airport.
Combining that experience and her attachment to J.J., she said she plans to become a contributor to the J.J. sculpture effort.
At this point, Friends of Kellogg Park remain about $60,000 shy of having the money to get the clay mold into the foundry where it will be bronzed and completed, said Mary Coakley, who has led the efforts to improve the park. Two recent donations of $50
Hoskinson, who plans to join the festivities when J.J. arrives at the Shores, said wants people to remember SeaWorld’s staff who “went beyond the call.
She said she still thinks of J.J., and the memories were even fresher earlier this year when another baby whale found its way into the Marina del Rey channel where she first saw J.J.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” she said. “It was a magical experience.”