A 40-foot whale was spotted yesterday swimming up the Chesapeake Bay, but marine biologists at Baltimore's National Aquarium said they could not yet determine if the huge creature was in trouble.
The whale was first spotted at 11:30 a.m. and last seen at 3 p.m. about 4 1/2 miles off the Eastern Shore town of Rock Hall, said Cheryl Messinger, marine mammal stranding coordinator at the aquarium.
Maryland Natural Resources police and the Coast Guard vessels were keeping watch over the area to keep recreational boaters away from the whale and lost sight of it at 3
p.m., Ms. Messinger said.
"We're not sure of its location at this point," Ms. Messinger said. "The whale may have turned around and be back in the ocean right now."
Aquarium experts were hoping to get a first-hand look at the whale if it surfaces in the bay again.
A helicopter search of the bay will be conducted this morning in an attempt to locate the whale, determine its species and whether it needs assistance, Ms. Messinger said.
She discouraged sightseers from trying to locate the whale and warned boaters that federal law protects marine mammals.