US Coast Guard Issues Warning after spotting whale in Elizabeth River

US Coast Guard Issues Warning after spotting whale in Elizabeth River

The US Coast Guard has issued a statement informing boaters to beware of whale, which has been spotted in the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Monday, August 19, 2014.

According to the estimation of the Coast Guard, the whale could be about 30 to 40 feet long. The boaters have been told not to move towards the whale or try to feed it. If boaters see the whale swimming above the water, they should be careful and must try to avoid it.

Mark Swingle, a member of the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, says that the species has not been identified yet, but it might be a sei whale. Adult sei whales, an endangered species, weigh around 20 tons and are about 45 to 65 feet long. The whale has been behaving erratically and this behavior could be because of illness.

Brook Smith, the captain of the American Rover, reported about the whale. He saw the whale swimming in circles for about 20 minutes on Friday.

"It seemed to be kind of swimming in circles -- no particular direction. I'm not a whale expert, but it looked ill", Smith said.

It is uncommon for sei whales to swim in waters so close to the coast line. They normally like deeper waters. It is also very strange for a sei whale to be spotted by humans.

Video footage of the whale has been uploaded by the Virginian-Pilot, a newspaper. The Virginia Aquarium has appealed that any sightings of the whale should be reported to them.

The sei whales are the most important species, essentially crucial to the ecosystem. They live in all oceans around the world and normally feed by sucking prey along with the water.

Presently, there is a fine of $50,000 for threatening a member of an endangered species. As such, individuals and boaters should not try to go near the whale.

The Stranding Response Team along with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Marine Police and NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement has gone to find and observe the whale's behavior.

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