Awesome 50-ton sperm whale gets lost off Shetland and needs the help of the islanders to nudge it out to deeper waters and freedom
- The incredible creature strayed too close to shallow water just off the coastline of Shetland
- It measured around 45-feet long and was thought to be a healthy adult male with no signs of injury
- The whale remained just off the Shetland coast for over 10 days before it was finally nudged to freedom
- Islanders came to the beast’s rescue, using their boats to push it to safety while others looked on
Astonishing footage has emerged of a 50-ton sperm whale being escorted out to sea off the coast of Shetland.
The whale, thought to be an adult male, measured around 45 feet and had no signs of injury.
It is believed to have got lost and ended up in waters much too shallow for its species, where it remained partially beached.
The creature was stuck around along the coastline for 10 days, but was finally nudged back to freedom by islanders yesterday.
It was manoeuvered out with the help of several boats and has escaped seemingly without injury.
Astonishing footage has emerged of a 50-ton sperm whale being escorted out to sea off the coast of Shetland. The whale, thought to be an adult male, measured around 45 feet and had no signs of injury. It is believed to have got lost and ended up in waters much too shallow for its species, where it remained partially beached
It was around the coastline for 10 days and finally was maneuvered out with the help of several boats yesterday (Weds). Islanders flocked to nearby Weasdale to admire the enormous creature
Islanders flocked to nearby Weasdale to admire the enormous creature.
Dad-of-three Gary Buchan, who filmed the incredible drone footage of the beast, said: ‘The whale has gone hopefully, never to be seen again.
‘It was moved on the 11th day.
‘They do travel up the east and west coast of Scotland.
‘People in the know think this is a male because females don’t tend to travel so far north.
‘There weren’t any significant signs of injury. The first couple of days was touch and go.
‘It was in relatively shallow water – 8m of water, when they are usually found in 800m to 100m of water.
Gary continued: ‘It was a bit of a shock. The boats manoeuvered around it, then just left it.
‘They took it about three or four miles out to sea, into around 40m of water.
‘One of the people on the boats said they saw it making a big dive, and it was never seen again.
‘It was ten minutes from where I live.’
Aquaculture technician Gary added: ‘I would say about 40 or 50 people a day came to see it.
‘People were coming from all over Shetland and people from all over the world have been following it on social media.’
Sperm Whales belong to the suborder of toothed whales and dolphins, known as odontocetes, and is one of the easiest whales to identify at sea.
The creatures gained their name during the days of commercial whaling.
Whalers thought that their large square heads were huge reservoirs for sperm, because when the head was cut open it was found to contain a milky white substance.
An intestinal secretion called ambergris found in sperm whales was used as a fixative in the perfume industry.
At one time, it was worth more than its weight in gold but this is no longer the case.
Dad-of-three Gary Buchan, who filmed drone footage of it, said: “The whale has gone hopefully, never to be seen again. The boats manoeuvered around it, then just left it. ‘They took it about three or four miles out to sea, into around 40m of water. One of the people on the boats said they saw it making a big dive, and it was never seen again’
Its skin is typically brown or grey, with white markings around the lower jaw and underside. It has relatively short, stubby flippers and a low hump instead of a dorsal fin.
Its diet is largely made up of squid. The creatures have a life expectancy roughly equivalent to a human’s, at around 70 years.
Males grow to around 18.3 metres (60 feet), with females reaching 12 metres (40 feet). Their young, or calfs, grow to around 3.5 metres (11 feet).
They have a maximum weight of around 57,000 kilograms (125 tonnes) for males.
The sperm whale’s huge head, which is up to 1/3 of its overall body length, houses the heaviest brain in the animal kingdom.
It also contains a cavity large enough for a small car to fit inside which holds a yellowish wax known as spermaceti oil, thought to help in buoyancy control when diving and act as an acoustic lens.
They have between 40 and 52 teeth in their long, narrow lower jaw which are thick and conical, and can grow to 20cm (eight inches) long and weigh 1kg (two pounds) each.
The sperm whale is one of the deepest diving mammals in the world, regularly making dives of up to 400 metres (1,300 feet) sometimes reaching depths of up to two to three kilometres (one to two miles)
It is thought to be able to hold its breath for up to two hours, although 45 minutes is the average dive time.
Sperm whales are found in most of the world’s oceans, except the high Arctic, and prefer deep waters.
The exact current worldwide population is not known, but it is estimated at around 100,000. The sperm whale is listed as a vulnerable species.
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