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Suspected pilot whale splashes up a stir after sightings in western Japan harbor

The sea creature said to be a short-finned pilot whale is seen in Kokura Ward, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on June 13, 2019. (Mainichi/Fumito Tsushima)

KITAKYUSHU -- An unidentified aquatic creature that appears to be a pilot whale turned up in Kokura Port's Hiagari harbor in this western Japan city, on June 12 and 13.

    The suspected pilot whale, which measures somewhere between 4 and 6 meters long, was sighted in the waters near to the mouth of the Itabitsu River. According to Marine World Uminonakamichi in the nearby Fukuoka prefectural capital, the shape of its dorsal fin and other characteristics suggest it is a short-finned pilot whale. It is believed the marine mammal got lost from its usual open sea habitat.

    The Kitakyushu Municipal Government first received reports of the confused cetacean from a fishing boat crew at around 7 a.m. on June 12, followed by a confirmation courtesy of the 7th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters.

    The whale was also spotted in the early hours of June 13 swimming near boats including fishing vessels. Passing citizens were said to have been watching with deep curiosity as the aquatic mammal showed off its dorsal and tail fins.

    (Japanese original by Fumito Tsushima, Kyushu News Department)

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