Beachgoers close to
the Rodanthe Pier got a bit of a surprise on Wednesday when a barely
offshore whale popped out of the water and put on quite a show.
The display was
caught on video by Haley Shirk, who was visiting Hatteras Island for
the first time, and the footage has been making waves on social media
since Wednesday afternoon.
A whale sighting on
the islands is not as unusual as it initially seems, as whales – and
particularly juvenile humpback whales – tend to make appearances along
the Outer Banks in the winter months.
However, the timing
of the visit on May 2 is a little unusual, as the whales are generally
out of the Outer Banks region by the time spring rolls around.
“[In the winter], the
whales are basically on their way to the breeding grounds to the south.
They are coming down from the northeast and Canada, and are feeding
their way down the coast,” said Cape Hatteras National Seashore Biotech
Paul Doshkov in an earlier interview.
“We see them in
January and February,” said Doshkov, “[but] when we start getting into
the spring months, they’re pretty much gone by then.”
Humpback whales tend
to follow the food, and may be spotted roughly 100-200 yards out into
the ocean alongside bottlenose dolphins and shorebirds. “It’s not
unusual to see a lot of lifeforms feeding in the same spot,” said
The whales spotted
along the Ocracoke and Hatteras island beaches are typically juvenile
humpbacks, and measure about 30 feet long. Adults clock in at around 50
feet long or less.
A number of whale
sightings were reported over the past winter, from November until
February, close to fishing piers throughout the Outer Banks. But the
somewhat rare appearance of this spring visitor was certainly a
surprise for anyone lucky enough to catch the show.