Blue whale sighting off Israel, in Red Sea, might be unprecedented

Blue whale sighting off Israel, in Red Sea, might be unprecedented

Outdoors

Blue whale sighting off Israel, in Red Sea, might be unprecedented

The sighting of a blue whale Tuesday beyond the Israeli resort city of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, appears to have been unprecedented.

Blue whales, which can measure about 95 feet and weigh 150 tons, are the largest creatures to have inhabited the planet, and are found globally.

Blue whale off Eilat. Photo: Israel Nature and Parks Authority

But the sleek mammals are not known to inhabit the Red Sea, especially its northern reaches.

“This is the furthest north that it has ever reached,” Oz Goffman, director of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center, told Haaretz. “In the past, it has been seen near the entrance to the Red Sea.”

Blue whale off Eilat, as seen from the air. Photo: Omri Omess/Israel Nature and Parks Authority

The 65-foot whale was first spotted Tuesday morning by a fisherman. Beachgoers and boaters marveled as the massive creature surfaced and revealed its fluke.

Marine biologists, who were working nearby, captured images from above and below the surface.

The Times of Israel quoted the Israel Nature and Parks Authority as stating, “This is a very exciting observation as whales sometimes travel great distances and occasionally increase their range of migration for various reasons: availability of food, damage to other habitats, climate change and other causes.”

Blue whales feed almost exclusively on swarms of tiny, shrimp-like krill.

The whale was not spotted Wednesday, and it was presumed that it had traveled farther south in the Red Sea. But scientists and fishermen were keeping a close watch, hoping for another look at the majestic creature.

–Images are courtesy of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority

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