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Dead Whale Identified as Istar, Well Known to Maine Naturalists
04/22/2013 04:21 PM ET  

A necropsy to determine the cause of death is being performed on Istar, whose body washed up on a beach in Long Island, New York.


A female humpback whale that washed up on a beach in Long Island, New York, last week has been identified as Istar (right), a whale popular with naturalists and school children in Maine and New England.

A necropsy is being performed on the animal to try to determine the cause of her death. She's believed to have been at least 41 years old and weighed close to 60,000 pounds.

Rosemary Seton, a research assistant with Allied Whale at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, says she was first spotted back in the mid-70's.

"The bottom line is that we've known her for many years," Seton says. "She's had many calves that we've come to know over the years, and certainly known to those who go out whalewatching, particularly in the southern Gulf of Maine area, out of Provincetown or Boston or Gloucester (Massachusetts)."

Tail patterns, dorsal fin and other markings can help scientists identify and catalogue individual whales like Istar, whose name means "Goddess of Fertility," and who, according to one published report, may have had more offspring than any other female humpback in the North Atlantic.

Watch a video of Istar.

This story was reported and written by Susan Sharon.

Photo by Shelley Lonergan, Brier Island Whale Watch.



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