About "Leukos"

It was late winter in 1983 and I was in Provincetown for the annual "whale-naming party". I had been a whale watch naturalist since 1980, but this was the first time I was able to join in the yearly naming of newly sighted humpback whales. One new whale up for a name had mostly white pigmentation on the ventral side of its flukes, and I suggested the name "Leukos". When asked for the derivation, I stated that "leukos" was the Greek word for "white", as in "leukemia" (for "white blood", taken from "leukos" and "haima"). And, thus, Leukos became "my" first whale...


Leukos is still a fairly regular Massachusetts Bay whale. I have seen her (yes - she's a female) on a number of occasions since she had first been sighted in 1982, but I certainly have not seen her every year. She has raised six known calves so far - "Kilter" (1989), "Tunguska" (1997), "Goldengate" (2000), "Thimble" (2003), and two unnamed (as of yet) young whales (2008 and 2010). The four named offspring have all turned out to be males, but the sex of the last two animals is still unknown (to us).

Leukos was seen again in 2011, without any calf, but that was expected (since humpbacks do not usually have back-to-back calves, and since the calves generally stay with their moms only for the first year). Leukos was also seen in 2012, again without a calf, but not in Massachusetts waters - she was spotted off the west end of Nova Scotia. Life goes on.

But I do hope to see Leukos again...

[Thanks to fellow naturalists Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Carol Carson, and Jooke
Robbins for helping to verify the above biographical details for Leukos.]