A whale that skirted North Carolina’s Avalon Pier this week on the Outer Banks has become a hot topic on Facebook, with a video of the moment racking up 267,000 views and 5,100 shares in three days.
The privately-owned pier posted the 40-second video Wednesday with a brief explanation that the sighting happened at 7 that morning in the waters off Kill Devil Hills.
“Wow, look at that fin. Good gosh,” says one surprised viewer, as the whale was within feet away. “Goodness gracious. Look at that damn thing!”
One viewer can be heard saying in the video the whale has a large cut on its back, something that generated concern on social media. Whales often get such scars during encounters with boat propellers, experts say.
It was identified as a humpback whale by Lauren Rust, executive director of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.
“They migrate up and down the east coast twice a year. It’s probably headed back up north for the summer,” Rust told the Charlotte Observer. “They generally come close to shore feeding.”
Because humpbacks can be “quite large and powerful,” Rust says its important that that vessels keep at least 100 yards away from them.
“No feeding or attempting to touch,” she added.
Such whales can grow up to 40 tons and 60 feet long, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Avalon Pier, built in 1958, extends 696 feet, allowing visitors to stand safely over waters that are 15 feet, according to AvalonPier.com.
The Charlotte Observer reported in March that four endangered humpbacks washed ashore along Carolina beaches within eight weeks. A fifth whale, identified as a Blainsville Beaked whale, washed ashore near Georgetown, South Carolina, the Low Country Marine Mammal Network reported in February.