Marine researchers were left flabbergasted after a whale paid a visit to a Cornish beach over the weekend.
The bowhead whale, which was seven metres long, was seen in shallow wasters at Long Rock Beach near Penzance yesterday.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue asked for the team’s help, amid fears the whale could beach in shallow water at Long Rock.
Teasing on its Facebook page, and MD spokesperson said: “Here’s something to get the wildlife enthusiasts among you interested/over excited: we have just been watching a bowhead whale in Mount’s Bay. I can’t actually express how bonkers this is.”
Marine Discovery had thought it was a humpback until its science office took a second look at the photos.
They added: “This one was much more obvious than the Scilly whale was, with its highly prominent “hump” around the blowholes, strongly arched jawline, and lack of any dorsal fin.
“They are used to swimming in shallow bays up in the high arctic, so on reflection the shallow water it was in wasn’t too much of a problem.
“We crept in ever so carefully, and the whale appeared to wake up a bit, realise it was in very shallow water, and it calmly and unhurriedly headed out to sea again. It was last seen heading south, about three miles out.”
Bowhead whales are capable of breaking through sea ice at least seven inches thick with their large skulls and powerful bodies.
Adult bowheads are entirely black except the front part of the lower jaw which is white and prominently upturned. They can grow up to 60 feet long while still being able to leap entirely out of water. Bowheads filter their food through baleen by opening their mouths and straining plankton from the surface, the water column, or the sea floor.
Data has shown that bowhead whales may be among the longest-lived animals on earth. Based on the recovery of stone harpoon tips in their blubber, and from analysis of eye tissue, scientists believe that the life-span of bowhead whales can be over 100 years.