The Images of Ashala

Posts tagged ‘whales in Klamath River’

What Happened to Mama, The Klamath River Whale?



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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.


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.”

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

MG_1193 Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

Img 1124 - Preparing to Remove Mama from the Klamath River

_MG_1232 Mama Moved for Burial

_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.”

A Message of Love – Mama, the Klamath River Whale

A Message of Love

Poem by Leslie Hancock
(reprinted with her permission)

I heard about you and I really wanted to meet you.
As luck would have it, our paths crossed on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon in August.
I watched you swim for almost an hour and fell in love with you.
I didn’t want to leave but it was time to go on my own journey home.
Now you are gone and I am left with a beautiful memory.
Thanks for sharing yourself and spending time with us far from your home.
You will be missed and never ever forgotten.

Sierra Club today posted an article about my images and Mama, The Klamath River Whale.  See the link below.
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A Lesson From the Gentle Giant – Stay True to Your Path

Many times in life what we do has far-reaching effects that we may never know.   Here is something written for the internet in regard to Mama, the Klamath River whale, and staying true to oneself.  It is used by permission of the author, Andee Allen, from California, written for   Here is a direct link to the article which is reproduced here on this blog:


Okay, Morning Coach people, you think you have issues meeting your goals?  Check out the saga of the Klamath River whales.  Here is this mother and baby Pacific gray whale gently swimming in the Klamath River, minding their own business, doing their own thing.  After about a month, the baby heads back to the open ocean.  The mother, content on her own journey, continues to leisurely swim around in circles in the river.

whale diversionJPGThen out of no-where come these smart, super-intelligent, caring citizens who decide that the mother should not be in the river, that what she is doing is not right and that she has to go back to the ocean right now.   So in their infinite, all-knowing wisdom, they shoot her with water, bang on pipes, pound on drums, etc. in an effort to change her course and send her back to where they think she should be.whale spraying

The gentle giant calmly ignores them and goes on about her own personal development and goals.  She does not let them divert her focus or attention.  She continues to swim in the river – up the river, under the bridge, and back down the river.  Every day, consistently.  Not once does she lash out at the people that think they know what is best for her. No angry splashing, no overturning their boats, just a gentle steady progress on her route.  In fact, mostly she ignores them.   She doesn’t try to argue with them or dissuade them from their goals of diverting her.  Instead she let’s them do what they are doing and gracefully continues on her own personal journey.

Now I don’t pretend to understand what she is doing in that river anymore than I understand what you are doing in your own personal river.  But this I do know, whatever she is doing or whatever you are doing, it’s because it is the right journey for your own personal growth and development.  It doesn’t really matter if others understand or embrace your personal goals.  What matters is that you – like the whale – understand your journey  and consistently work towards it.

Next time you have friends, family, acquaintances, or even strangers trying to divert you from your journey, think of the whale – stay the course, be consistent, be gentle and courteous, and stay focused on your own personal goal.  Let nothing distract you.

personal goal

To follow more of this beautiful whale’s journey and/or purchase images go to or

Andee is a business consultant whose passion is helping business owners strategically market and brand their companies using social media tools coupled with traditional business tactics.  Her clients range from small independent companies to large multi-national organizations.  She has an MBA but owes her success to personal coaching by JB Glossinger and  She can be reached at


This entry was posted on Friday, August 12th, 2011 at 7:32 pm and is filed under Goal SettingPersonal Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through theRSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

A Tribute Through Music and Poem To Mama, The Klamath River Whale. August 22, 2011

Ashala Tylor Photography

MG_7694 A Flute Song for Mama, the Klamath River

This is a beautiful tribute written by my friend, Mihael Kavanaugh (pictured), in a farewell poem he wrote for  Mama.   Mihael played the flute to Mama on two occasions while canoeing on the Klamath River, one of which I was honored to accompany him on the canoe.

Ashala Tylor Photography

_MG_9647 A Flute Song for Mama, The Klamath River Whale

Mihael Kavanaugh

Peaceful Rest

She has laid down to rest
Her journey home now complete
Her story known by many
Her message, a mystery …
A sigh of sadness
For she touched many a heart

Her dance
Was with such grace
The mist of her spout
Still refreshes my face
Such a friend …
One can’t replace
Though in story and song
She’ll echo her grace
Mama whale ~~~
Peace be with you …
As you go
From this worldly place

©2011 Mihael Kavanaugh

_MG_9483 Yurok Indian Tribe Members Drumming and Singing for Mama

Ashala Tylor Photography

_MG_9490 Yurok Indian Tribe Members Drumming and Singing to Mama






Ashala Tylor Photography

MG_8404c Stand Up Paddler Bids Farewell to Mama, The Klamath River Whale

Ashala Tylor Photography

_MG_0163A A Ukelele Song for Mama, The Klamath River Whale

Seth Altamus, a stand-up paddler, had hopes Mama would follow him out to the ocean.  She followed him to the Klamath River RV Park, a short way from the bridge, but then she turned and swam back to her spot by the bridge and continued her circles.    Here Seth is waving a bittersweet farewell to Mama when he realized she did not want to leave.   In the other image, he was serenading her with his ukelele from his paddle board.

All of the above images were what I would term a “holistic” approach in an attempt to soothe Mama or an attempt to convince her to head back to the ocean.  Music has the capability to touch all beings, but Mama had her own path to follow, a reason for which we do not know, and she seemed content to stay near the bridge and make her continual circles mesmerizing all who watched this beautiful creature.

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Grind TV Outdoor Blog Klamath Whale Article

Great article on the Klamath River whale from Outdoor blog.    Check it out!


Ukelele Songs for Mama, the Klamath River Whale

Ashala Tylor Images

Ukelele Song to the Stranded Klamath River Whale

This young man was out early in the morning yesterday strumming a ukelele song to the “Gentle Giant,” who is known as “Mama.”    Some of the Yurok Indians have been known to call her by her name “Mama” in the Yurok language.  As soon as I find out what that is, I will post it.

Please make note that there is a Federal law, Marine Mammal Protection Act, prohibiting harassment of marine mammals and suggests that people stay back more than  100 yards of a marine mammal, ”   As intentions are all well and good by those wanting to be near Momma and soothe her and connect with her, someone could be injured.  Please keep that in mind and realize that she is a “gentle giant”  that is confined to a very small river and all precautions should be taken to adhere to the Federal Law, not only for the safety of the human but for the safety of the beautiful mammal that graces the Klamath River.  No one wants to see either Momma or any of her adoring fans injured.

Ashala Tylor Images

Paddle Boarder with Ukelele to Serenade Mama, the Klamath River Whale

While intentions are  pure and good, and no harassment intended whatsoever, it is imperative to keep in mind that Mama is a wild mammal and someone could be injured by getting too close to this “Gentle Giant.”

Yesterday there were reports of more swimmers and kayakers in the water presenting a danger to themselves and Mama.

I have been documenting the whales’ journey since Mama and her calf were first seen on June 23, 2011.

Many images of these beautiful mammals can be seen at
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A few days ago  there was a flute player in a canoe serenading the “gentle giant.”    Soothing flute sounds emanated throughout the bridge area, a respite from the passing cars and trucks.

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Spy Hopping Whale in the Klamath River

Ashala Tylor Images

I have been documenting the whales’ journey since mom and her calf arrived over a month ago.  Many images of these beautiful mammals can be seen at
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A Song for the Klamath River Whale


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Paddle Boarder and Klamath River Whale

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Swimming with the Klamath River Whale


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Flute Player Serenades Stranded Klamath River Whale

As I made me way over to the Klamath River Bridge overlook to check on the stranded Klamath River whale, I heard the most beautiful flute sounds permeating the air.   Mihael Kavanaugh of Trinidad played soothing sounds for 1.5 hours in an effort to convince her to return to the sea.    This beautiful gentle giant swam to within 5 feet of  his canoe.   Afterwards I spoke to Mihael in a video interview which I will post at a later date.  For now, enjoy the images of sounds gifted from one soul to another soul.

More images of this beautiful encounter can be seen at  Email: for image use or purchase.


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The Crowd Watched the Stranded Klamath River Whale while Listening to Flute Music

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Even the Dog Enjoyed the Show

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Gentle Sounds for a Gentle Giant
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Flute Player Sits in awe as Klamath River Whale Blows a Rainbow

Life is not all Rainbows for the Klamath River Stranded Whale

Ashala Tylor Images

Klamath River Whale Rainbow

With her baby calf gone, waters receding and a shortage of food, some boater harassment, I fear for the wellbeing of this beautiful creature.

Hopefully, she will decide to swim out to the ocean soon.  She is definitely a gentle giant, never ever bothering the boats who come near her with

loud motors and complete disregard for the Marine Mammal Protection Act requiring 100 yards distance which, if enforced, carries a fine and jail time.

We are all hoping that this wayward mammal will leave the Klamath River soon and head for the open ocean where she will find  food and salt water

that she needs to survive.


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