By Dan Bacher
The 40-foot long whale beached herself around 6:30 p.m. Monday and perished at 4:19 a.m. Tuesday. The cetacean’s health had been deteriorating in the past two days, most likely because of the lengthy stay outside of its natural, saline habitat, according to a news release from the Yurok Tribe. The whale was spotted in the river in late June; the seven-week stay is believed to be the longest period of time that a whale has ventured outside of its normal saltwater habitat in California waters.
“To have such a large animal in our presence for so long was a great gift, but now nature has taken its course,” said Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke Sr. “It is truly unfortunate that she didn’t try to make it back to her home.”
This is not the first whale to swim up a river or estuary in California. “Humphrey the Whale,” a humpback whale, ventured up the Sacramento River near Rio Vista in 1984. “Delta and Dawn,” a mother humpback whale and her calf, went up the Sacramento into the Sacramento Deepwater Channel as far as West Sacramento in early May 2007. Fortunately, all three of those whales eventually returned to the ocean.