A whale swam into Washington’s Puget Sound and came extremely close to land, photos show.
Spotting it may have been a “rare gift,” experts said.
The Pacific Whale Watch Association said Jan. 20 the visitor was actually a fin whale, one of the longest species of whales on the planet.
“Experts have confirmed that the mystery whale in Puget Sound last week was indeed a fin whale,” the association said on Facebook. “Fin whales are second to the blue whale as the longest whales on Earth.”
Fin whales can grow up to 85 feet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whale’s spotting in Puget Sound was very rare, experts said.
The fin whale spent a week near Seattle’s northern shoreline, according to Orca Network, a nonprofit dedicated to the Pacific Northwest’s whale population.
“To have such an impressively large and gorgeous being spend time this far inland in our urban waterways is a rare gift,” the group said on Facebook. “These encounters were deeply moving experiences.”
Fin whales have V-shaped heads and can be easy to distinguish because of the fin on its back, NOAA said. The species was targeted by the whaling industry decades ago, which severely lowered their populations.
The fin whale is listed as an endangered species and is also considered depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, according to NOAA.
“It may still be around, so keep those eyes peeled,” the Pacific Whale Watch Association said of this particular fin whale.