Whale Carcass found 1000 Miles Inland

Status: Mystery
A few weeks ago the body of a beluga whale was found far inland, 1000 miles away from the ocean, washed up on the bank of the Tanana River in Alaska. No one seems to have any clue how the thing got there. Sylvia Brunner, a researcher at the University of Alaska Museum of the North speculates that
"The whale could have died in the river last fall and frozen.... On the other hand, the whale could have entered the river this spring seeking fish heading for the ocean. After dying, it could have begun 'cooking from inside out, with all that blubber layer.'"
But given the unlikeliness of a whale traveling that far inland, researchers did consider the possibility of a hoax, though they were pretty quick to rule this out. Link Olson, a curator at the museum, noted that:
Perpetrating a hoax along a remote section of river with the body of a whale was highly unlikely... "If you were ever close to a dead marine mammal, even for a few hours, you would know why no one in their right mind would do that."
Unless it was a crazed prankster like Porky Bickar who airlifted the thing in, just to mess with people's minds. Or, another possibility, the whale is a rare subspecies of beluga: the Upland Beluga, similar to the better known Upland Trout, a type of fish that nest in trees and are scared of water.


Posted on Thu Jun 22, 2006


That picture of the whale doesn't look particularly real.
Posted by FlintJ  on  Thu Jun 22, 2006  at  09:46 AM
While it is true that whales evolved from land-dwelling mammals I think the hypothesis that this is a subspecies of Beluga that has returned to the land is unlikely to prove accurate. The main problem I can see with the hypothesis is the issue of diet: belugas live primarily on fish, squid, crustaceans, octupi, and worms, all bar the last of which are generally scarce outside of water. Alex cites the Upland Trout as an exception, and of coursethere is the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus - but neither are sufficiently common to support a whale population and neither are found in the habitat where this whale was found. For this reason, I think the Upland Whale hypothesis is flawed.
Posted by outeast  on  Fri Jun 23, 2006  at  01:29 AM
Just in case some people don't read the article, I thought I'd share the most unmissable sentence:

"It was black and nasty and runny and full of maggots," she said. "Some of the meat was in relatively good condition. You wouldn't want to eat it."

There. Aren't you glad I shared?
Posted by outeast  on  Fri Jun 23, 2006  at  01:33 AM
On a related topic; I was out walking my pet beluga whale the last Saturday when he got startled by a passing cycle-courier and bolted. Last I saw him, he was heading north, and I haven't heard from him since.

He's white, about 15 feet long, weighs just over a ton, and answers to the name of 'Loogie'.
Posted by David B.  on  Fri Jun 23, 2006  at  03:23 AM
Maybe it was carried by inland by African swallows?

Definitely not European swallows. But then, the African swallow's not migratory...
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Fri Jun 23, 2006  at  09:02 AM
There's a good chance that it's a freshwater umber whale, which I learned about here:

"Due to the damming of the Yangtze River in China, the freshwater umber whale (which is roughly two-thirds the size of its saltwater cousins) has been added to the endangered species list."

Though it seems the umber whale is only native to the Asian area, and given that it's freshwater, while that would explain its presence in the Alaskan river, one wouldn't think that it would be up to an ocean journey. Maybe seeking better hunting grounds now that the Yangtze is nearly fully dammed?
Posted by Taed  on  Sun Jun 25, 2006  at  12:57 PM
Umber...I don't even know her
Posted by jersey jones  on  Sat Sep 16, 2006  at  02:45 AM
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