Has lost whale safely made its way back to sea?
- Credit: Archant
A lost whale seen in the centre of King's Lynn appears to have made it back out to sea.
It was first sighted in the Great Ouse upstream of the town at around 8am yesterday.
A crowd gathered on the riverbank at Harding's Pits to see the creature - which experts believe was a fin whale, only the ninth to be seen in Norfolk in more than 150 years.
It surfaced to breathe frequently for around half an hour, before the tide turned and it began heading back downstream towards The Wash.
The Seawatch Foundation said the whale looked 'disoriented' and showed fresh scars on its back, flank and head.
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'It would be more typical of a Minke Whale to enter the River Great Ouse but historically there have been two other records of fin whale in the river,' said Carl Chapman, Sea Watch regional coordinator for Norfolk .
'Therefore it's not so outlandish that this individual that can grow to be the second largest animal on the planet came to visit King's Lynn. The latest good news is the whale was last seen heading back out to sea.'
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Fin whales are the second largest animal on our planet, with adults reaching lengths of more than 25m and weighing 75 tonnes.
The whale seen in the Ouse - estimated at around 5m - was a juvenile.
The creatures inhabit the North Atlantic, North Pacific, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian and both Arctic oceans.
Carl Chapman said the whale may have taken the wrong turn into the shallow waters of The Wash.
In late summer, they normally work their way south from the Arctic towards the Atlantic Ocean along the west side of the UK.
'This whale has come down east of the country, and instinct tells him to head southwest which is probably how he ended up in King's Lynn,' Mr Chapman added.
While the whale's entire body could not be seen in the coloured water of the tidal river, its dorsal fin can clearly be identified.
The fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus, has a sleek and streamlined body with a dorsal fin which tends to be taller and set farther forward on the rear of its body compared to blue whales, and which sets further back and rises at a shallower angle than those of other species.
It spent some time surfacing off Boal Quay and the Nar Loop, where King's Lynn's whaling fleet was based in the 18th Century.