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Local anglers treated to show by whale

POSTED: December 27, 2017 1:32 p.m.
Tanner Hicks/

Four Bryan County anglers spotted this whale about 10 miles east of Ossabaw Sound last week.

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Four Bryan County men who were enjoying a day of fishing last week spotted this whale about 10 miles east of Ossabaw Sound.

Todd Hicks and his son Tanner Hicks, along with Tanner’s friend Garrett Franzel and Ennis Hager were heading back when they spotted it.

“We must have sat there for an hour and watched it,” Todd Hicks said. “It kept jumping out of the water and swimming around. It was just an amazing experience.”

Although they couldn’t get too close due to safety precautions and wildlife protection laws, Hicks said the group estimated the whale to be much larger than his 22-foot boat.

“I’m guessing at least 30 feet, maybe 35,” he said. 

Clay George, a marine mammal biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, identified the whale as a humpback. 

"We've been seeing an increasing number of humpbacks in the Southeast in recent years, probably because the western North Atlantic humpback population has been doing so well," George said. "In fact our population (aka West Indies population segment) was just removed from the endangered species list last year. Most of the population overwinters in the West Indies, and they feed throughout the North Atlantic in the summer. The ones that are here each winter are apparently individuals that are choosing not to make the whole migration. They're often smaller, indicating they may be juveniles."

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