October 8 - 1984: Ninety-four whales die after beaching in Eastham

2004: Marathon champion John Kelley dies at 97
New England Aquarium rescuers were on the beach in Eastham in 1984 when the whales beached.

1984: 94 whales die after beaching on Cape Cod

Largest loss in years, no cause known

On this day in 1984, workers from the New England Aquarium began giving lethal injections to beached pilot whales that could not be saved.

Ninety-four whales, some 20 feet long, were stranded Saturday on a beach in Eastham. The cause of the mass beaching, the largest in the Cape Cod area in recent years, is not known.

Mass strandings of dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals date back to the time of Aristotle, but some environmental activists have suggested that human impacts of pollution, shipping noise and, in some cases, military sonar have led to a rise in such frequency and severity of such events. And so scientists have been trying to untangle what factors cause these normally adept swimmers and maritime navigators end up in shallow water where they can become beached and die.

Every year up to 2,000 animals beach themselves. Although the majority of strandings result in death, they pose no threat to any species as a whole. Only about 10 cetacean species frequently display mass beachings, with 10 more rarely doing so.

2004:  Marathon champion Johnny Kelley dies at 97

Dennis resident ran in 61 Boston Marathons, won two

On this day in 2004, Yarmouth's great marathoner John Kelley died. A legend of the Boston marathon, Johnny Kelley made his mark as a true endurance athlete.  In the seventeen years from 1934  to 1950, he won it twice, finished in the top five 15 times at, consistently running in the 2:30s.  He ran his last Boston in 1992 at the age of 84, his 61st start and his 58th finish.  Johnny has also run the Yonkers Marathon 29 times.

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His obituary in the New York Times began:

John A. Kelley, who ran 61 Boston Marathons, won two and became almost as celebrated as the race itself, died on Wednesday in South Yarmouth, Mass. He was 97.

A stepson, David DeLong, said Kelley died in a nursing home, less than three hours after he arrived from his home in nearby East Dennis.

Kelley was a Boston sports hero in the mold of Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Bobby Orr, but of that illustrious group the only one home grown and the only amateur. He ran perhaps 1,500 races, including 112 marathons, and won 22 diamond rings, 118 watches, one refrigerator and no money.

Read the complete obituary here.

(Above: A 97-year-old John A. Kelley breakfasts at the Boston Marathon breakfast for champions in 2004.)


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