This story begins with the unexpected find of Star's stranded newborn brother, and develops into a tale of survival and hope.
On January 7th, 2013 biologists collected the battered, scratched, and bruised body of a newborn killer whale from the windswept shore of Dungeness Spit in Washington State. The calf was transported for further examination to NOAA Fisheries in Seattle where a pathologist noted that the calf had suffered internal bleeding around his head, throat, tongue, right ear and brain.
Fluid had accumulated in his chest and abdomen, and tests revealed that even though he had taken a brief breath he had not lived long enough to nurse and receive any milk.
Inexplicably, there were a few stones in his stomach. His eyes and lips had been consumed by opportunistic predators before he was found.
Photo credit: NOAA Fisheries
The deep scratches that transect his body are rake marks made by the teeth of a whale, possibly from being supported to the surface by the mother.
Biologists theorize that these marks on newborns can also be from other family members assisting in difficult deliveries.