Sperm whale in Scottish harbour for nine days swims safely back to sea
A 30ft sperm whale that has been delighting locals and tourists in Oban Bay, Scotland, for the last nine days has finally swam back out to sea.
A spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said the whale, aged between 11 and 14 and weighing around 20 tonnes, suffered a minor injury before he set off.
Speaking to stv.tv, he said: "At approximately 4pm (on Monday 8 April), the whale headed out of Oban harbour, heading initially towards Maiden Island and Lismore. It then headed southwards from the southern tip of Lismore on the tidal flow, but then may have turned northwards.
"Before leaving the harbour, the whale had dived immediately in front of a moored barge and scraped its head on the bow. This has left it with a visible surface wound but veterinary experts agree that it is unlikely to be life-threatening as although relatively large, it has not penetrated deep and has just scraped the outer skin."
David Scott, also from BDMLR, said the visit from the whale had provided whale experts with valuable information.
He told the BBC: "Nobody has observed an animal of that kind so close to shore, in shallow water, for such a prolonged time. We don't know why he came into the bay but whales will seek shelter from time to time.
"We had established he was able to swim in and out of the harbour at will and went of his own accord which is so important.
"The moral of the story is 'leave whale alone'."
David also thanked locals and boat owners for their co-operation in trying to avoid the whale. Caledonian MacBrayne even re-routed their ferries in a bid to keep it safe and calm.
BDMLR says it will be on the alert for future sightings of the whale to keep track of its progress and wellbeing.
It had originally been feared that the whale was lost or sick. Sperm whales are usually found in deeper waters further away from the shore where they feed, and it was thought the whale could be in danger of starving.
It was certainly a hit with the locals and holidaymakers. Guest house owner Gilbert MacKechnie told the Daily Record: "The guests are quite taken with it and it's not only the tourists. There is [also] a lot of interest locally."
He added: "I went on an Alaska cruise two years ago to see whales and I didn't see a thing but now I have seen one here."
Describing the whale's visit as "highly unusual', Mr Scott added that if it happens again BDMLR will be more equipped with knowledge on how to deal with the situation.
See footage of the whale at Oban Bay below:
Fears grow for sperm whale attracting crowds in Oban Bay
Delighted tourist gets a kiss from a 30-tonne gray whale