This is such a sad story and what I find most moving is the connection that the Yurok Indians have with whales, their abiding respect for them and for the natural world. Gray whales can live up to 80 years and their long memories are key to their survival. This 45-foot female gray whale took refuge with its calf in Northern California's Klamath River nearly two months ago. The calf swam back out to sea on July 23, but the mother remained. "It's very sad," said Thomas O'Rourke, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, whose reservation lines the banks of the river south of Crescent City, California. The whale died around 4 a.m. as it was observed by a number of scientists.
O'Rourke visited the dead whale and said a prayer for its new journey. He believes it might have been showing its calf a place it had known in its youth."This is the farthest up river I have ever seen a whale," he said. "They come into the mouth regularly, the bottom end of the estuary. I believe there is a message there, and we are still yet to understand." The whale was expected to be buried later on the gravel riverbank during a private ceremony held by the Yurok Tribe among tall willows near the spot where it beached.
Read the story and view photos here.