A humpback known as "the most popular whale in California" has died after being struck by a ship, authorities say.
The body of the 17-year-old water mammal, known to West Coast whale watchers as "Fran," was discovered Sunday on Manhattan Beach, says Ted Cheeseman, founder of the online database Happy Whale.
"Ship strikes are tragic," Cheeseman says. "This is the most beautiful animal in the world, being killed literally as road kill."
Fran, who measured more than 50 feet long, was born in 2005 to a whale named Big Fin.
Although she spent most winters in Guerrero, Mexico, Fran quickly became a celebrity in Monterey Bay, becoming one of the state's most photographed sea creature and attracting thousands of tourists who hoped to catch a glimpse of her.
Read more about Fran on HappyWhale.com.