Boaters made way for an “unexpected visitor” swimming through the Cape Cod canal on Thursday: a humpback whale.
“This was highly unusual for the area but anything is always possible!” officials with the Wareham Department of Natural Resources wrote on Facebook, sharing a video of the endangered whale swimming in outer Onset Harbor.
The department and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers provided a security zone for the whale as it went on its way, closing the area to vessel traffic.
The whale was first spotted around 12:30 p.m. and was located in the area of the Sagamore Bridge, the Cape Cod Times reports.
Tony Lacasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium, told WHDH that it’s rare for humpback whales to be spotted so far south, given that they typically feed north of the Cape.
“He did traverse the length of the canal and that is a little unusual,” Lacasse told the station. “A lot of times when we have whales in canals or up rivers, sometimes they are young animals that either have a little bit of wanderlust or they don’t know better.”
Wareham officials said the whale headed toward Buzzards Bay and hasn’t been spotted since.
“If you are going to be transiting the area please keep a look out, operate at a safe distance from the whale and report sightings to the Coast Guard,” the natural resources department wrote.
Humpback whales can grow up to 60 feet in length and weigh up to 40 tons. They are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.