Tuesday, February 22, 2005

End of Talon's Story


Humpback whale jawbone
Originally uploaded by yeimaya.
Talon's story did not have a happy ending. During the winter of 1987-1988 one humpback after another washed ashore, many of them on Cape Cod. By January 14 were found: Talon was one of them and Beltane another. It was a horrible two months for me it must have been a nightmare for researchers who had know these whales since they were born.

Talon's calf was seen the next summer in the Gulf of Maine so at least he survived for through the winter and following spring without her.

It was not certain what had caused so many deaths during the fall and winter. Some whales were fresh enough to autopsy and herring with high concentrations of red tide in their livers were found in the whale stomach.

Talon may have fed on those herring too in effort to regain her body fat from a summer of nursing a hungry calf. She would need it for the long migration to the Carribean and lean winter there without feeding.

This photograph is not of Talon but of a female that died only 2 years ago. Many whales were found floating at sea and a few came ashore. Their bodies were so decayed that the cause of death could not be determined, but red tide was a primary suspect.

Red tide is naturally occuring but it particularl thrives on pollution we release into the ocean from our rivers. As well as feeling enormous sadness for the loss of these whales (some of them "friends"), I also feel responsible to them. I hope by telling their story that I can encourage people to get involved in protecting and restoring our oceans.

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