A humpback whale spotted in Maine has locals and social media users in awe.
Wiscasset resident George Bryer was supposed to be at an appointment but rescheduled after hearing about whale sightings in his area on Aug. 24.
“I got home and grabbed my wife and the neighbor down below us, and we hopped on the boat and probably went about 2 miles from our house,” Bryer told USA TODAY on Tuesday. “I had a 50-50 shot of going down the right river … I took the right turn and there it was.”
'Oh my God'
Bryer, his wife Barbara Bryer and their neighbor, Christine Wigton, were lucky enough to spot the whale in the Montsweag Bay in Wiscasset, about 45 miles northeast of Portland.
Bryer, an electrician, said he shut off his boat and eventually the whale swam over to them. At one point, the whale went down below the vessel and popped up on the other side.
“Oh my God,” Barbara Bryer said excitedly while filming the whale.
"That was the most breathtaking thing that I've ever seen," George Bryer later told USA TODAY.
Check this out! A whale 🐋 was spotted putting on a show in the Sheepscot River near Wiscasset on Thursday! #MyMaineSTORY: https://tinyurl.com/3e5juszz
Posted by WGME CBS 13 News, Portland on Friday, August 25, 2023
The couple didn’t get a video of the exact moment the whale popped up on the other side of the boat but did capture a video of the whale’s flukes disappearing below the water’s surface.
The encounter really lived up to the name of the couple's boat: The Unbelievable.
“In fact, my wife and I bought the boat last year and renamed it,” he said. “It seemed every time that we ever used the boat, something unbelievable would happen."
Sharing the unbelievable moment
The Bryers posted their video of the whale on Facebook, prompting a friend reached out to ask if their daughter could post the video at her workplace, Portland television station WGME-TV. The video has now been viewed over 70,000 times.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also confirmed to USA TODAY that the animal is a humpback whale. The whale hasn't been seen in a few days, though, NOAA said Wednesday morning.
According to NOAA, there was bait fish in the area and the whale appeared to be feeding on menhaden, a fish found in coastal and brackish waters ranging from Nova Scotia to northern Florida, WCSH-TV reported.
Marine Mammals of Maine, a nonprofit that helps stranded marine mammals and sea turtles, posted about the whale the day after the sighting on Friday, calling it a young humpback. The whale seemed to be healthy.
The group posted a reminder about the status of the humpback whale in the U.S., noting that they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, meaning touching, feeding and harassing them is illegal.
The group said there is some concern for the whale’s safety, considering there are so many boats were in the area.
“While this whale’s presence is exciting and an amazing sight we hope the public gets the opportunity to enjoy, we urge people to appreciate this whale safely and respectfully by maintaining at least 100 feet of distance,” the agency said.
Marine agency patrolled the area, resident says
George Bryer said that Maine Marine Patrol showed up while his boat and several others were near the whale. Most of the other boats took off but the Bryers decided to stick around and chat.
“We hung out and talked to him and that's what we first learned it was a humpback whale,” Bryer said. “He was just giving us some information about what he does and he was there to just make sure nobody was messing with the animal.”
The couple was told to stay 100 feet away from the whale so Bryer said they tried their best to be respectful.
The marine patrol agent also showed the couple a video from when his crew previously saved a whale about 3 miles off the coast. It was tied up in some lobster buoys, Bryer recalled.
Marine Mammals of Maine, the nonprofit that helps stranded animals, encouraged locals to navigate the area slowly with their engines in neutral when whales approach. The nonprofit also said vessels should not enter areas where whales are actively feeding.
“People have been injured and thrown from vessels, had their vessels damaged from close approaches to feeding humpback whales, and caused injury to the whales,” the nonprofit wrote. “Happy safe and respectful viewing of this amazing animal!”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Watch humpback whale awe Maine couple as it nears their boat