A quickly gathered team of experts was able to return a massive creature to the open sea. However, it appears that we will see more and more whales in Valencia.
A team of experts, volunteers, police and civil guards have successfully returned to the open sea an 18-meter-long common fin whale that had been trapped in the waters of the Real Club Náutico de Valencia.
The event took place on Wednesday, and by the time the news reports were out, the massive mammal was already safe and on its way. If you happened to be in the vicinity of Real Club Nautico on Wednesday, you would be treated to quite a show. But, not many people were.
The fast-paced resque action was the result of a quickly assembled team of experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Xaloc NGO, the University of Valencia and the Polytechnic of Valencia, the Oceanogràfic Foundation, the Red Cross, the Civil Guard, the Valencia Charter, the Real Club Náutico de Valencia, and the Local Police.
After repeated efforts, the whale was finally led to the port’s mouth, where it was able to swim out to sea and head south, following its natural course.
It was a perfect opportunity to put the new protocol for such scenarios, which had just been approved, to the test. And that test was needed because it is expected that more and more of these cases will arise in the future. The fin whale is the world’s second largest animal, and it could be seen in the Spanish Mediterranean during the summer months. With recent climate changes, there are more and more sightings, and numerous specimens have been observed along the Valencian Community’s coast in the previous several weeks. However, seeing whales in Valencia, particularly in the harbour, is extremely unusual.
Approaching the wales in open waters is prohibited by law, and a minimum distance of 60 metres must be maintained at all times.
Like all other large whales, the fin whale was heavily hunted during the 20th century. As a result, it is an endangered species. Over 725,000 fin whales were reportedly taken from the Southern Hemisphere between 1905 and 1976; as of 1997 only 38,000 survived. Recovery of the overall population size of southern subspecies is predicted to be at less than 50% of its pre-whaling state by 2100 due to heavier impacts of whaling and slower recovery rates.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) issued a moratorium on commercial hunting of this whale, although Iceland and Japan have resumed hunting. The species is also hunted by Greenlanders under the IWC’s Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provisions. Global population estimates range from less than 100,000 to roughly 119,000.
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