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Whale sighting thrills beachgoers in Ocean City

This video shows a whale breaching the waters off the coast of Ocean City. (Video courtesy of Tim Knecht)

Beachgoers in Ocean City were having a whale of a good time on Friday.

And by "whale" we mean an actual whale.

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Multiple visitors reported seeing a whale breach the surface off shore of the beach around 131st Street. Several people posted videos of the whale on social media. Others posted pictures.

Delaware Surf Fishing reported it was notified of sightings near 112th Street. The fishing website said the whale was headed south around 1 p.m.

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Ocean City has had an active summer so far in terms of marine encounters, but whales are not the most common sighting.

"It's certainly unusual," said Jessica Waters, communications manager for Ocean City. "We see a lot of porpoises and dolphins. But this summer, we've had the manatee, the hammerhead shark and now we're having a whale."

Amber White, stranding coordinator for the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Animal Rescue Team, said the whale appeared to be a humpback whale, a species known to inhabit the waters of the Atlantic.

White said the whale is simply migrating in search of food. She noted that the humpback whales have been spotted off the coast of Ocean City over the past few years.

"If you look at all of the seafood we can get off the Maryland coast, our oceans provide a wealth of delicious food for them, as well," she said. "It's kind of awesome to know there's great food right off of Ocean City."

White said to see a whale breach is something spectacular.

"It is a very exciting experience to be able to share that with people, so folks can see it in the wild," said White, adding that she has never seen a whale breach herself despite growing up on the Eastern Shore.

She said the whale was fairly close to shore and people should be sure to give it space. However, if you're headed to Ocean City for the weekend, don't count on a repeat visit.

"They don't linger very long," White said. "It's just part of their migratory route. And sometimes they make spectacle of it for everybody to see."

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