Malaysia: Whale near coast of Pontian, Johor pulled out to sea

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 8 Feb 16;

PONTIAN: The sighting of a 20-meter whale swimming along the coastal area of Pantai Rambah here on Monday left many villagers and the public in awe of the mammal.

The sighting of the whale caused a frenzy among the public with many taking pictures with their mobile phones.

Within minutes, the news was widely spread on social networks. Within a few hours, a large group of people thronged the area to see the whale up close.

The whale was spotted at around 2pm by several beachgoers heading towards the coastal area of Pantai Rambah.

Local fisherman Ariss Karim, 54, said he spotted the whale swimming in deep waters near the beach since the wee hours of the morning after returning from his fishing trip at around 6am.

“I thought to myself that it is a big fish and it will help me a lot once I catch it but when I went to have a closer look, I discovered it was a whale. This startled me and I quickly give up on the idea as the animal is very large.

“The whale might have been lost at open sea and it might have followed the water current which lead it to the coastal area of Pantai Rambah,” he said adding that this is the first time he ever seen a whale in his life.

Ariss added that he been a fisherman all his life but he never thought he would be able to see the world’s largest mammal in Johor’s waters.

Pontian Rescue and Fire station special service operations chief Jumaat Sailan said the department together with state Civil Defence Department and local fishermen went to rescue the whale.

“The animal was swimming closer to the coastal area where the water is quite shallow and it may put its life in danger.

“We used a fishing boat and tied a rope around its tail before pulling the whale into deeper waters at around 3.30pm. The operation was a success as the animal managed to swim away into the open sea,” he said.

Beached whale causes commotion at Pontian beach
HALIM SAID New Straits Times 8 Feb 16;

PONTIAN: The sight of a beached whale at the Rambah shoreline caused a commotion among the locals here today.

The whale, measuring around 20m long, was spotted around 2pm some 50m from the beach.

It was learnt that the whale had been swimming in the Pontian waters since morning.

A fisherman identified only as Aris said he had noticed that a large blackish object gliding on the ocean surface but he was unable to make out what animal it was. "I was shocked when I learnt that the large animal was a whale.

This is the first time I have seen a whale up close," he said.

The whale's presence also caused a buzz on the social media, with locals uploading pictures and videos of the animal.

Fearing that it could become stranded in the shallow waters, the Pontian Baru Fire and Rescue Department was deployed to rescue the animal.

The station's special operation chief Jumaat Sailan said this was the first time he and his unit had to face such a unique rescue mission.

He said they had to respond quickly to get the animal back to the open sea as it was still alive and moving.

"We had to tug it out from the shallow sandy water by tying its tail and pulling it using a fishing vessel.

With the help of the fishermen there the whale was back in deep water by 3.30pm," he said.

The number of onlookers began to swell at the beach, all hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare sighting.

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