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A famous and beloved 50-foot humpback whale washed up dead on a beach in California after she was hit and killed by a ship strike.
Source: NBC Bay Area/Youtube
The whale named Fran washed up on Halfmoon Bay on August 29, according to Whales of Guerrero. Fran was known to locals and research groups and was seen swimming off the coast of the United States and Mexico. According to the organization, Fran was the 2nd most sighted whale in the area.
Fran was first seen by whale watchers in 2014 off the coast of Guerrero, Mexico. According to Whales of Guerrero, she was the third whale that they ever photo IDed and the first whale that they resigned in a northern feeding ground.
“Fran’s mom was also known, and this summer, many whale lovers have enjoyed the sight of her feeding with a healthy looking calf from this season. The future is uncertain for her calf, now,” Whales of Guerrero wrote on Facebook. “Hopefully it was already starting to wean and can make it without its mother by now.”
According to a necropsy by The Marine Mammal Center, Fran died from blunt force trauma caused by the ship strike. Unfortunately, ship strikes are not uncommon in whale deaths. According to Friend of the Sea, 20,000 whales die every year from ship strikes.
“This humpback whale had an extensive contusion over her right chest area, a fractured first cervical vertebra and its skull was dislocated from the spinal column,” Pádraig Duignan, director of pathology at The Marine Mammal Center, said in a press release. “These findings, combined with overall excellent body condition, strongly implicates blunt force trauma associated with a ship strike as this whale’s cause of death.”
Whales of Guerrero hopes that Fran’s death will motivate “new laws and improved personal practices on the ocean that will keep humpback whales safer in the future.”
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