The female adult gray whale who has been trapped in the Klamath River in Northern California since June died Tuesday after beaching herself on a sandbar. Some who saw the whale Monday said they noticed she was having breathing problems.
A photographer who has been following the whale's progress for weeks told KTVU that she last saw the whale swimming near a bridge at 2 a.m., but when she returned Tuesday morning the whale was on its side "dead as can be." Ashala Taylor said she was shocked to find the whale had died.
Sarah Wilkin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has also been following the whale's progress. She told AP her team will perform a necropsy after researchers move the marine mammal.
The mother gray whale and her 15-foot calf both entered the river in late June. They were on their way from Baja California to Alaska when something went wrong and they turned inland.
The younger whale successfully swam back to sea on July 23 and hasn't been seen since.
Both whales have been the talk of the town since their arrival. Locals used countless tactics to try to coax the whales back to the ocean. Those included water cannons, banging on pipes, chanting and the broadcast of killer whale sounds.