PONTIAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The sighting of a 20m whale swimming along a coastal area in the Malaysian state of Johor on Monday (Feb 8) left many villagers and the public in awe of the mammal.
The sighting of the whale at the coast of Pantai Rambah in Johor's Pontian district caused a frenzy among the public with many taking pictures with their mobile phones.
Within minutes, the news of the sighting was widely spread on social networks. A few hours later, a large group of people thronged the area to see the whale up close.
The whale was spotted at around 2pm by several beachgoers.
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," he said.
"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 the incident was the first time he had ever seen a whale.
Ariss said 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.