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Ship Strike = (Another) Dead Humpback

April 30, 2013

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Every loss is a sad one, but this one is especially so:

They called her Istar.

The humpback whale that washed up dead on an East Quogue beach last week was well known to scientists and the whale community as a fertile mother tracked since 1976, researchers said this week.

Istar, named after Ishtar, an ancient Babylonian fertility goddess, mothered at least 11 calves, including two in consecutive years, 1988 and 1989, something previously undocumented, said Jooke Robbins, senior scientist at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

“I won’t lie, it’s not really easy,” Robbins said. “Istar is just an individual known for so long, as such a productive whale. She’s a big favorite for so many people.”

Istar was at least 41 years old, measured at 48 feet long and was estimated to weigh 30 to 35 tons, researchers said.

While her cause of death is still under investigation, the whale had massive cranial damage consistent with a ship strike, said Kimberly Durham, rescue program director of the Riverhead Foundation, which performed the necropsy.

I wonder what was on that ship. How important was it? How slow would ships have to go in the whale corridors to reduce the lethality of ship strikes? What would that cost?

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