sb-whale-1The mammal came within 15 feet of the shore, witnesses said. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Smith)

A whale made a rare appearance in the Atlantic Ocean off Sea Bright near sunset Sunday, witnesses said.

The animal spent about half an hour within 50 feet of a north shore beach club, appearing listless and occasionally raising its tail out of the water, they said.

It got as close as 15 feet to the beach, said Stephen Smith, a Middletown resident who shot some photos.

After traveling back and forth over a range of about 100 yards parallel to the sand, the animal vanished, witnesses said.