UPDATE: A whale seen swimming just yards away from a Western Australia beach has been found stranded near another beach, according to officials.
The sperm whale made headlines after emerging in the shallow waters near Perth, stunning beachgoers with a rare, up-close sighting — but leading some to worry the whale could be in danger, McClatchy News reported. Now it appears those concerns were warranted.
After swimming away from the coast of Perth, the nearly 50-foot long whale is beached on top of a sandbar near Rockingham, roughly 30 miles south of Perth, Australia wildlife officials said in a Dec. 10 Facebook post.
The whale will likely be euthanized, officials told 9News.
“I think it’s very unlikely given the circumstances and given the appearance and condition of the whale that it’s going to survive,” marine scientist Kelly Waples told the outlet.
The original story is below.
Beachgoers were in awe, staring and cheering or swimming out into the surf when a massive creature appeared just yards from the shore, Australian video shows.
People treading in the vibrant blue water off Perth’s coast are dwarfed by a gray figure — a large whale slowly cruising through the shallows, video shared to Facebook by Ori Weiser shows.
Most crowded along the beach, but many swam out for a closer look, video shows.
“How lucky are you to be there for it!!” a commenter said. “Magical.”
But others found the rare sight worrying, saying that the whale may be sick, hurt or lost, and in danger of beaching itself.
In another video, shared by 9NewsPerth, swimmers can be heard yelling and screaming in excitement right beside the docile giant. A witness said some were even touching the whale and climbing on it, “which was so disappointing because they’re such beautiful creatures.”
A massive whale has come dangerously close to shore at a Perth beach yesterday.
Swimmers were asked to leave the waters after some approached the 15-metre humpback to touch it as it lingered in the shallow waters of Leighton Beach.#9News pic.twitter.com/cfV25xnOor
— 9News Perth (@9NewsPerth) December 10, 2023
Eventually, officials arrived at the scene and ordered everyone out of the water, the video showed.
“He just came in for a quick beer,” Weiser said, responding to commenters worried about the whale’s health.
“Looked like was beaching himself but after a while and support from all of us swam back out happy,” he said.
Worldwide, about 2,000 whales and dolphins become beached every year, according to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
“The beaching of a single, live animal is usually the result of sickness or injury,” according to the organization. “Bad weather, old age, navigation errors, and hunting too close to shore also contribute to beachings.”