Sunday, June 5, 2011

In loving memory of Slash

It is with great sadness that I must withdraw one of our whales from the symbolic adoption program.  It breaks my heart every time I hear of another dead right whale, particularly when they have become so much as part of the Bay of Fundy summers. 

In the latest Right Whale Research News Volume 20, No. 1, from the New England Aquarium, Marilyn Marx wrote the following:

"There is sad news in the right whale world: The great old whale Slash (Catalog #1303) is dead.  A boat captain discovered her carcass floating off Virginia on March 17, but it was never relocated so we don't know for sure how she died (but shipstrike is suspected).  She was first photographed in 1979, and she was named for her injured right fluke, the result of a shipstrike.  Over the years we saw her with six calves (though she may have had more). She was a protective mother: She rarely came near the boat when she was with a calf: we would see her distinctive flukes lifted in the distance, leading her calf away from potential danger."

Slash (on the left) in a courtship group in the Bay of Fundy, September 15, 2009.  The distinctive white scar on her tail was from a propeller slicing through her tail.  A normal right whale tail is on the right  and the back of another right whale is below. Her 2009 calf was with her in this group.
Her memory will continue with everyone who knew her and her death will be added to the long list of right whales that have died since right whales become valued for their existence, rather than the value of their blubber and baleen.