Blue whales are majestic creatures that grace our deep seas but they are also extremely rare to see. That's why it was a big surprise when the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) confirmed in a press release on Friday that the recent sighting off Sydney is of just such a whale.
The release stated that the event was likely only the third of its kind in nearly 100 years.
"The blue whale is the largest animal on the plant yet despite its size it could have easily slipped by Sydney's coast unnoticed," said NPWS' Andrew Marshall.
"Blue whales are largely 'invisible' even to the most avid whale watchers and researchers as the creature is very rarely seen around the world. And they are not often seen because they tend to live very far out to sea, their populations are widely dispersed and we have very limited data on its migration and critical habitat."
Marshall also added that "We have unofficial records of blue whales near Sydney from observers at Cape Solander in 2002 and 2013 but this recent sighting is the first verified record of this species off our coast."
Marshall further estimated that the animal may have been over 82 feet (25 meters) in length and weighed over 110.2 tons (100 tonnes). Marshall added that the blue whale's population still remains unknown.
He explained that sightings such as these help scientists learn more about the elusive whale such as where the species lives and if more can be done to help conserve it. He referred to the sighting as "opportunistic" and "incredibly valuable."
Another individual who felt the same way was a photographer who was lucky enough to see and photograph the rare blue whale. He shared his photo on Instagram with the caption: "Yesterday watching a lot of humpbacks travel south in my usual spot at Maroubra, one of the great wonders of the magical ocean appeared in-front of me."
He went on to describe the whale as the largest living animal on planet Earth whose tongue is the size of an elephant and heart the size of a car. Well, that definitely puts things in perspective!