Passengers aboard the whale watching ship Moby Dick, sailing off the coast of Reykjanes peninsula, southwest Iceland, were caught by surprise yesterday when they spotted a strange creature—not a whale—swimming in the ocean alongside the boat.
“We saw that there was something other than a whale swimming near the surface. […] The creature was surrounded by dolphins and it looked like they were trying to help it,” Helga Ingimundardóttir, who operates Moby Dick, told Morgunbladid. “It swam near the surface for quite some time so we got a good look at it before it disappeared.”
The strange creature turned out to be 1.2 to 1.5-meters-long Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which can weigh up to 360 kilos. Such turtles are common in the Mediterranean and by the North American coastline, but are usually not found in Icelandic waters.
Ingimundardóttir notified the Icelandic Marine Research Institute about the discovery. Droplaug Ólafsdóttir, a biologist at the institute, said the turtle’s visit is very unusual.
Ólafsdóttir explained that the ocean temperature is warmest around Iceland at this time of year and espoused that could be a possible reason for the turtle getting lost, adding that she did not expect more turtles to follow.
A giant sea turtle has been spotted in Icelandic waters on one other occasion, in Steingrímsfjördur fjord in the eastern Westfjords in 1963. It was 2.03 meters long and 375 kilos. The turtle is on display in the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.