*UPDATE: It was reported Tuesday (Dec. 12) that the sperm whale has perished after it became stranded on a Perth sandbar.
A large sperm whale joined swimmers near the shore Saturday at Port Beach, Australia, generating concern that the mammal might strand.
The accompanying footage was captured by Ori Weiser, who announced via social media that the whale ultimately “swam away happy.”
Wishful thinking, most likely, because healthy sperm whales generally remain offshore in deep water.
Typical diving forays in search of prey extend 2,000 feet beneath the surface, but sperm whales are capable of diving to depths of more than 10,000 feet.
The whale might have been sick, injured, or disoriented. But as of Saturday night it had not stranded.
9 News Perth reported early Sunday that swimmers were asked to exit the water during the 50-foot whale’s appearance.
Weiser’s footage shows the whale just yards from shore and one clip shows a jetski rider following closely behind.
Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales on the planet and are found around the world.
According to NOAA Fisheries, the most significant threats to sperm whales are ships (vessel strikes), commercial fishing gear (entanglements), ocean noise (disorientation), oil spills and contaminants, and climate change.