SeaWorld Celebrity Pilot Whale 'Bubbles' Dies

The female short-finned whale was in her early- to mid-50s and was the oldest pilot whale in captivity.

<p>SeaWorld San Diego</p>

SeaWorld San Diego announced the passing last week of Bubbles, a female short-finned pilot whale that had been with the parks company since 1987.

She was captured in the 1960s off California and spent more than 20 years at Marineland of the Pacific, in Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif., before coming to SeaWorld.

"In her early- to mid-50s, Bubbles was the oldest pilot whale in a zoological park. She has inspired and amazed more than 100 million guests for nearly 50 years," the company wrote in a statement.

Females of the species can live to around 60 years old (45 for males), according to NOAA.

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In a 2010 release, SeaWorld staff noted some of the "grand dame" whale's memorable traits, citing her penchant for diplomacy.

"Along with Shadow, Bubbles' companion pilot whale and best buddy, she has a knack of bringing stability to the diverse mammal community," the company wrote of Bubbles, adding that she was known as a calming force for the younger dolphins, with whom she seemed fascinated.

A necropsy will be performed to pinpoint the famous animal's exact cause of death.

Here's a look back at Bubbles:

click to play video