File Photo: Blue Whales (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's environment ministry said in a statement on Thursday that a rare blue whale has been sighted for the first time in the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.
The Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmi ordered monitoring teams in all the Egyptian nature reserves in South Sinai and the Red Sea to track all movements of the whale.
The Blue Whale is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth.
According to the ministry statement, the subspecies that has emerged in Red Sea waters is a 24-metre-long pygmy blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda).
"This type of whale does not constitute a danger to humans and does not attack humans, but the ministry advises people not to approach it," the statement read.
The Ministry of Environment urges citizens to swim away from the marine mamal if they see it. The ministry has also ordered the monitoring units to determine possible causes for the whale's appearance in the Red Sea.
Blue whales spend most of their time in the ocean and rarely come into sea waters according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
These magnificent marine mammals rule the oceans, growing up to 100 feet long and upwards of 200 tonnes.
Blue whales look like a true blue underwater, but on the surface their coloring is more a mottled blue-gray.
Aggressive hunting in the 1900s by whalers seeking whale oil drove the animals to the brink of extinction. Between 1900 and the mid-1960s, some 360,000 blue whales were slaughtered. They finally came under protection with the 1966 International Whaling Commission, but have managed only a minor recovery since.
Blue whales have few predators but are known to fall victim to attacks by sharks and killer whales, and many are injured or die each year from impacts with large ships.