The Images of Ashala

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Many of my readers have asked what happened after Mama passed away and what was done with her body.  One blog reader wanted to know if she was just left in the river.  No, she was not. As crazy as the morning of her death was, everything fell into place as far as all involved working together to hasten her removal from the Klamath River and bury her after a Yurok prayer.

On Tuesday, August 16, 2011 she was lying dead in the Klamath River, her home of nearly 8 weeks.  After a short while, white sheets were placed over her body.    A huge backhoe was brought in and her body was moved to the other side of the river.  A huge swath was made in the tall willows by  heavy equipment that was brought in.  This area provided  a perfect place away from throngs of people to perform a private Yurok ceremony to send her off to the afterlife and, afterwards, a necropsy.  A necropsy can be defined as a postmortem examination of an animal.  It could take months for a final report.

I am still filled with sadness whenever I look across the river at the swath that has been made and where this gentle giant was laid to rest.

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Excerpt taken from Jessica Cejnar/The Times-Standard
Posted: 08/24/2011 02:40:25 AM PDT:

“The scientists who conducted the post-mortem examination didn’t see evidence of broken bones or bruises, which might have been caused by a ship strike, said Jim Oswald, communications manager of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. The skin was showing effects of the whale’s long sojourn in fresh water, but scientists don’t really know what the animal’s condition was in the ocean, he said.

Getting the tissue samples analyzed could take months. Once scientists receive the results, there’s still no guarantee they’ll know the cause of death, Oswald said.

Looking at the tissues under a microscope can help scientists discover if the whale had a viral or bacterial infection. Examining

the heart muscle can determine if the whale had a heart attack, according to Sarah Wilkin, stranding coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

”One thing that’s common is parasites,” she said. “They can look at the tissue and actually see signs of a recent or historic infection that may not necessarily be what caused her death.”

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_MG_0909 Deceased Mama, The Klamath River Whale, August 16, 2011

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MG_1193 Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

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Img 1124 - Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

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_MG_1232 Mama Moved for Burial

 

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_MG_0953 Mama, The Klamath River Whale

Excerpt from my earlier blog of August 17, 2011:

“Today was a very long and sad day as this beautiful being I had come to know and love has left us.  What her message was, we may never know.  Why she was here, we may never know.  There are so many things we don’t know and are not meant to know.  But what I do know is she was truly a “gentle” giant, a loving creature who charmed and mesmerized the throngs of  people, young and old, who came to watch her from atop the bridge, from the water, from the shoreline.

Mama, the gentle Klamath River Whale, we will so miss you and we thank you for gracing our lives with your presence.”

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Comments on: "What Happened to Mama, The Klamath River Whale?" (1)

  1. Bonnie Jones said:

    Thank you Ashley. “We may never know” is always so painful to hear but the reality on this Earth, our home that has been under so much assault for about 200 yrs due to escalating industrialization at a high rate since the mid 19th century. I’ve read of studies that show clearly rapid “progress” which so often is rampant growth with no regard to environmental degradation.

    When I mentioned Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring which compelled President Kennedy to establish a commission to research effects of DDT, a guy on Huff Post commented that Carson’s conclusions were overblown and inaccurate. My head exploded.

    More and more marine life end up off course fm their natural navigation to feeding grounds and breeding areas in the oceans. Trolling by international ships for huge amounts of sealife erode availability of food sources for the big ones, like Mama and other whale species. I remember few yrs ago over 400 dolphins came onto the coastal areas of northwest France.

    I just think human activity and the waste that is dumped into the oceans has a horrible effecton marine life. Think of the decadant, silly monstrous cruise ships and what they must dump into the oceans. During the Gulf tragedy last yr, on NPR I heard one guest describe the amount of garbage and waste like a trail fm the northern coast of So. America thru the Caribbean waters to Florida, the heavily trafficked waters by hoards of tourists.

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