Wally the grey whale continues rare tour of Italy

Grey whale believed to be en route to France.

A grey whale, which appeared off the coast of Italy in mid-April in a first for its species, was spotted on Wednesday by the coast guard off Imperia, in the northern Liguria region, and is believed to be heading to France.

The animal was first sighted off the Pontine Islands, before being seen again off the coast of Naples, Sorrento, Gaeta and then Rome, in what is being described as an "exceptionally rare" event.

Noting that grey whales are usually found in the north-eastern Pacific Ocean, marine biologists are baffled by the animal's "incredible migration" to Italy, suggesting the climate crisis as a possible reason.

The young grey whale currently touring the coast of Italy is estimated to be about 8 metres long and "appears undernourished and very thin," according to experts.

Animal lovers are advised to refrain by attempting to touch the whale - christened Wally by Italians - and to keep a distance of about 100 metres.

Sightings of the whale should be reported to the Harbour Master's Office using the toll-free number 1530.

Grey whales were hunted to extinction in the North Atlantic in the 18th century however one was seen in the Mediterranean - off the coasts of Israel and Spain - in 2010.

Photo La Repubblica