Wayward Whale Heads Out of German Waters

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A wayward humpback whale first sighted in Germany has made its way north to Danish waters, hopefully on its way out of danger, an expert said Monday.

The whale, dubbed "Bucki" by the German media, has improved its chances of survival by heading toward Denmark, but still has to make it through one of the narrow entrances connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, says Klaus Harder, a biologist at the German Ocean Museum for Sea Mammals in Stralsund.

"The whale is closer to the Kattegat, a passageway to the North Sea, and therefore closer to its usual summer habitat, the nutrient-rich Arctic waters," Harder said.

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While the whale has drawn media attention since it was spotted about three weeks ago off the German island of Ruegen, biologists have worried that it could not survive long in the Baltic, which doesn't offer the conditions the giant sea mammals need for survival.

It is thought that Bucki could have ended up in the Baltic after getting confused and swimming into the sea, or that it may have been directed by currents or simply been following a school of fish.

The humpback is a type of baleen whale, distinguished by its long, narrow flippers and large knobs on its head, jaws and body.

Humpbacks can reach up to 52 feet in length and some 40 tons in weight, and feed largely on krill, small fish and plankton.