January 22nd 2017 a very rare marine mammal, a dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) was spotted near Ostend.
That Sunday, during a trip at sea in the Belgian part of the North Sea for observing marine mammals and seabirds, about 90 porpoises (Belgium's most common cetacean), were observed. One animal raised some doubt as to whether belonging to the same species. After the trip, the photos were thoroughly examined by Belgian and foreign specialists.
Conclusion: it is not a porpoise, but a dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). The dwarf sperm whale can attain a length of 2.7 m (larger than a harbour porpoise which is usually 1.8 m). It is rare for the dwarf sperm whale to be seen in Europe. The January 22 observation was the first in Belgian waters.
More information on the website of our coast guard partner Operational Directorate (OD) Natural Environment/Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM): www.naturalsciences.be