The sighting has inspired Lochness-levels of excitement

By Maria Yagoda
June 15, 2015 06:00 PM

The white harbor porpoise is nothing if not shy.

The majestic sea creature, which has been spotted only 15 times in the past 100 years, typically goes about its business in total secrecy, which is why a June 8 sighting – in the Baltic Sea near Denmark – has marine biologists and animal nerds everywhere freaking out.

The sighting is remarkable for its extreme rareness, but also for the porpoise’s playful demeanor, which is uncharacteristic.

“This animal appears to be playing with the vessel, swims alongside it and rides the bow wave. That is quite unusual behavior for a harbor porpoise,” marine biologist Fabian Ritter, who received the footage, tells the Dodo. “[They] are usually a wary species, and not especially interested in vessels. This is quite curious behavior.”

The already-tiny population of these porpoises is currently threatened even further by hungry gray seals and increasing toxin levels in the sea. Porpoises also often get caught in fishing nets and drown.

Ritter finds it remarkable that the plucky porpoise has beaten the odds to make it to adulthood. “It appears that this is an adult,” Ritter tells the Dodo. “And although it’s susceptible and more visible, it has made it until adulthood without being predated.”

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