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Sad news

In sad resonance with the recent installation of the skeleton of “Snow” at Bartlett Cove, a well-known local whale has been found dead near Juneau. We humans called her “Max”, or, less romantically and more scientifically, Whale #539 in the Southeast Alaska catalog.

Necropsy results indicate that she was probably killed when struck in the head by a ship.

She was known to frequent Glacier Bay and Icy Strait. It’s interesting how, with the advent of fluke pattern identification, we can begin to compose for a wild whale the kind of obituary that’s ordinarily reserved for humans and our domestic creatures. For example, “Max” was first seen in the 1970s, so we know she was at least 40 years old. She was a mother to at least five calves, and grandmother to at least three.

Of course the obituary the whales might compose would be so much richer…

You can read more about Max’s death and the investigation, and see some photos, on the Alaska Dispatch News webpage. You can see Max’s fluke on this page of the Southeast Alaska humpback whale fluke catalog. She’s number 539.

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