When you first look at this photo, you may think that you’re seeing a giant mermaid, but you’d be wrong. In fact, this is a whale that was spotted off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, and experts believe it may be suffering from scoliosis or curvature of the spine.
It’s a rare condition but not unheard of, and scientists say they have seen scoliosis in other marine mammals like dolphins.
According to David Schofield, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine mammal response coordinator, officials believe that the whale was likely born with the disorder or developed it throughout its life, but that the injury would not have been caused by a boat collision.
“They’re not like cartoon animals,” Schofield said. “They don’t hold the shape of the contusion. Sometimes they’ll have like a little imprint, but it’s just not too plausible to see that if the animal had been impacted there that the peduncle or the tail shaft would’ve stayed that way.”
Either way it is said that the mammal may be sick and suffering as a result of its condition, so hopefully officials can find a way to help!