‘Rare sighting alert’: Fin whale spotted near North Seattle beaches

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SEATTLE — It is a species that, when seen, elicits gasps at how enormous it is. A fin whale, the second-largest whale species on earth, was spotted in Puget Sound last week. It is second in size only to the blue whale.

According to the Orca Network, the mammal was spotted foraging near the shoreline of beaches in North Seattle.

The animal was caught on camera by various photographers Jan. 9-16.

A Facebook post from Orca Network stated: “To have such an impressively large and gorgeous being spend time this far inland in our urban waterways is a rare gift. These encounters were deeply moving experiences for those who were fortunate enough to spend time in the whale’s presence.”

A fin whale, which weighs between 40 to 80 tons and can reach up to 85 feet in length, is listed as an endangered species and depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated. Before the fin whale’s protection, and during the mid-1900s, a huge number of the species were killed by commercial whalers, nearly 725,000 in the Southern Hemisphere alone.

At first, commercial whalers did not target the species because they are fast swimmers and live in the open ocean but as technology progressed and other species were annihilated, fin whales became the new target, NOAA said.

As for the lone fin whale spotted in Puget Sound, there has been no word on any recent sightings. However, the Orca Network said it could still be swimming in inland waters.