Rare 15m blue whale spotted off Sydney coastline for first time in 20 years
- Huge mammal swan in circles feeding on krill
- Species was close to extinction before whaling ban brought in 16 years ago
They’ve not been spotted in Sydney waters for two decades, so when this blue whale made an appearance it was as big a moment as the giant marine mammal itself.
The 15-metre-long (16-yard) whale was spotted in waters off Sydney, Australia yesterday afternoon, to the delight of experts and tourists alike.
Witnesses say the huge mammal swam around in circles for a while, feeding on krill.
Spotted: The majestic blue whale made a brief appearance off the Australian coast on Thursday
Sighting: The whale was said to be around 15m long
Feeding time: The whale was said to have swam in circles eating krill before heading along the coast
Although tourists regularly take boat trips out from Sydney on whale watching tours, it is extremely rare to see a blue whale.
Geoff Ross, a whale expert from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The blue whale is the largest known animal ever to have lived on the earth, which makes it absolutely amazing that we’ve seen one off Sydney.
‘This is one of the very few confirmed sightings off Sydney.’
Jonas Liebschner, from Sydney Whale Watching, said: ‘It’s very, very rare to see a blue whale in Sydney.
Majestic: The blue whale’s numbers are now at around 5,000 following a whaling ban coming into force in 1996
Whale watching tours are hugely popular in Sydney, but the blue whale has rarely been spotted
‘The last confirmed sighting was 20 years ago, so it was a really special moment.
‘I’ve been whale watching in Sydney for five years and I have never seen one.’
Blue whales were hunted almost to extinction before a whaling ban came into force 16 years ago.
Estimated numbers for the giant marine mammals are now thought to be around 5,000.