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Humpback whale underwater

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WDC Mourns The Loss Of Istar

Istar flipper slapping off Cape Cod in 2006

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Istar – one of our beloved humpbacks in the Whale Adoption Project.  Our colleagues at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation located her body stranded on Long Island, NY on April 17, 2013.  The Foundation has completed a necropsy (autopsy) to determine a cause of death and we await the official results.

Istar was aptly named for the Goddess of Fertility.  At the time ofher death she was the mother of 11 known calves and grandmother to 12.  While we don’t know when she was born we know that she was at least in her early 40’s, perhaps “middle” aged for a humpback whale.

Istar spent a good deal of time in the Northern Gulf of Maine and was last sighted alive off Brier Island, Nova Scotia last August.  But we have a particularly fond memory of her off Cape Cod. The picture above was taken on a beautiful summer day when the seas were calm.  This image was taken when Istar rolled to her side and began to repeatedly slap her flippers.  It was amusing to watch and the sound was so powerful.  We can still hear the ‘slap’ and see the spray of water that rose each time her flipper crashed on the water’s surface (the image above was taken at that time). This playful yet powerful activity is how we will always remember her.

More can be found on the passing of Istar here.