Oman


Rescue efforts underway to save whale off Qurum Beach


A view of the whale breached off Qurum beach. Photo - Meagan Patroni

Muscat: As the sunset on Friday evening, many families looked curiously out, across the popular Shatti Beach as a breaching whale was followed by an Omani police boat. The unusual sight was an indication of an animal in distress. 

The boat tailed the whale for about 40 minutes as it attempted to direct the mammal back out to sea and away from the shore upon which it had earlier beached itself. 

At about 4.45pm, Matthew, 15, had noticed the marine animal stranded in waist deep water about 30 metres out from Costa at Shatti Beach. The teenager quickly took action, utilising the knowledge imparted by his father, a marine scientist, he entered the water along with four others, directing the whale out to where the police boat could then move it along. 

According to Matthew the animal is about 5 meters long, light grey on the top and dark grey under. Although the whale seemed to be breathing clearly, it has a gash between its dorsal fin and head. 

Marine Scientist, Elayne Looker said that from Matthew's description, the whale was probably a Cuvier's Beaked Whale "not commonly seen but it is not unique to spot it in this area."

An Environmental Protection Specialist, Ms Looker was worried about the whale which appeared to be rolling in waist deep water just off of the popular 'Love Street'. She said: "This isn't normal behaviour. It's either threatened by something bigger or sick." 

Ms Looker feared for the well being of the whale as it slowly approached a section of beach used by tourists on jet skies. A quick call to the jet ski operator Alnimer Tourism, and the operators respectfully brought the jet skis back to shore, away from the distressed animal. 

As darkness fell, Ms Looker kept watch over the animal calling back a man who had swum out to get a closer glimpse of the whale. "If the whale is sick, the man could potentially get something from the mammal." She said. 

Currently, a team from Five Oceans Environmental Services was monitoring the whale. "If it continues to beach itself it may be best to euthanise the animal so as not to prolong its suffering" Ms. Looker said. She also explained that crowd control could also be an issue as on-lookers could cause further distress to the animal. 

Special thanks to Meagan Patroni for the contribution.

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