August 16, 2011
Officials from NOAA reported this morning that the female gray whale died around 4:20 am and had beached onto a sandbar in the Klamath River. The Marine Mammal Center, along with Humboldt State University and the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, are working in conjunction with NOAA officials to conduct a post mortem examination of the 45-foot-long whale to determine cause of death as well as collect morphometrics, samples for genetic analyses to determine which stock the whale is from, and uniquely in this case, fresh samples of tissues for histology which will be very valuable as comparison for other whale investigations.
July 27, 2011
According to officials, the cow is still in the river after unsuccessful attempts Tuesday to coax her out using sounds of the whale's natural enemy (Killer Whales) as well as alarm sounds. Latest news.
July 25, 2011
Rescuers from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Yurok Tribe and The Marine Mammal Center, among other agencies, have been trying to get two wayward gray whales - a mother and calf - to swim back out to the ocean after the creatures swam up the Klamath River near Highway 101 almost a month ago, according to news reports. Over the weekend, Dr. Frances Gulland, chief scientist at The Marine Mammal Center, and former leader of rescue efforts for humpback whales Delta and Dawn (Dawn is pictured above, breaching) that swam up the Sacramento River in 2007, was called in to join the team to help assess the whales' health and to work with the team to try to coax them to turn around toward the direction of the ocean. In a press report in the Times-Standard, Sara Wilkins, stranding coordinator for NMFS, said that the calf left the river. It is presumed that the young whale made its way to the ocean, but the cow remained in the river. The calf is estimated to be 6 months old, a time when young whales should leave their mothers, according to scientists.
On Sunday morning, the rescue team launched a flotilla of boats to create a “barrier” wall that was used in conjunction with banging on the pipes to encourage the cow to move towards the river mouth. The multi-agency effort also included California Department of Fish & Game and a local fire boat that sucked river water in and sprayed it out in the hopes of encouraging the whale to move in the appropriate direction. During the herding attempt, wildlife officials were able to collect tissue samples in order to study the whale's DNA. The attempts to coax the mother out were unsuccessful and the cow remains in the river as of late Monday afternoon.
It is unusual for whales to stay so long in fresh water environments and no one knows why these two made the journey to this river.