Bowhead whale

Bowhead whale spotted off Cornish coast
Marine experts 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.

There were fears it would become beached but fortunately the lone adventurer turned around and made its way back out to sea.

Posting on Facebook, Marine Discovery Penzance, which provides tours in the area, said: "So, flabbergasted doesn't begin to cover it

"There have been two confirmed sightings of this species in Europe and both of them were in Cornwall.

"The previous one was in the Isles of Scilly in February 2015, so it's possible that this was the same bowhead whale, though it would be impossible to tell.

"However we did spot a tell tale scar on this one's side, which could be used for ID purposes if by any chance it is spotted again."

Dan Jarvis from British Divers Marine Life Rescue was called to the beach to assess the animal and requested that the team from Marine Discovery Penzance assist from the water.

The post continued: "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, realised 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."

The bowhead whale, also known as Balaena mysticetus, is believed to be the longest living mammal in existence today - living for up to 200 years - and is one of the heaviest animals alive, second to the blue whale.

They are dark in colour and do not have a dorsal fin. The animals can grow up to 18m in length and weigh up to 100 tonnes.

Bowhead whales can usually be found swimming in the upper northern hemisphere in and around arctic waters. They are very solitary animals and often travel alone or in small pods of up to six other whales.

Range of bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus).
© Wikimedia Commons /Maplab
Range of bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus).