As many as 100 grindhvaler (pilot whales) swam into the Byfjord just outside Bergen on Sunday and came surprisingly close to the city’s Nordnes peninsula before heading north again. By Monday afternoon, though, they were threatened by curious boaters whom experts feared were coming too close to the majestic marine mammals.
“Don’t get too close and scare them, because then they can end up coming ashore,” whale expert Lars Walløe told news bureau NTB. “If they don’t get scared, they’ll probably manage to swim out to sea again.”
The large pod of whales was first spotted in the main Hjeltefjord Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday they were seen at Øygarden, heading towards Bergen. By 5pm they were frolicking in the sea off Sandviken and almost in to Nordnes in the heart of Bergen.
Then they disappeared, but resurfaced Monday morning north of Bergen near the bridge called Nordhordlandsbrua. “It was just fantastic to watch them,” local resident Åse Andersen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “There were lots of whales and they swam and looked like they were enjoying themselves. It looked like they were playing, and heading south again towards Bergen.”
See some video of the whales on NRK’s website (external link, in Norwegian – “spill” means “play”).
The pilot whales are not fast swimmers, Walløe told NTB, adding that it can take time before they find their way out to open sea again. Several parallel fjords in the area run in a north-south direction, meaning the whales need to choose one of them and swim in a northeasterly direction to get pack out to the North Sea.
Local police had received several calls about the whales from excited residents, but the police also cautioned whale watchers to keep their distance. “Otherwise the whales will become stressed,” Terje Hilland of the Hordaland Police District told NRK.
One NRK reported claimed she saw at around 100 of the whales in the Hjeltefjord on Saturday and that’s where whale experts hoped the whales would return to eventually find their exit route.
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