Rare whale filmed for the very first time

06.11.2015 06:59
Kategorie: News

Animal was found off the coast of Madagascar

Balaenoptera omurai, Madagacsar - Royal Society Open Science 1“ von Salvatore Cerchio et al.
Balaenoptera omurai, Madagacsar - Salvatore Cerchio et al. / Royal Society Open Science (Wikimedia Commons)

Researchers have filmed the rare Omura’s whale off the coast of Madagascar for the first time ever.

Very little is known about this whale, which was initially mistaken for the Bryde’s whale, due to their somewhat similar appearance. It was only in 2003 that genetic analysis determined that they were a different species. However, without any confirmed sightings, almost nothing was known about this new species - until now.

The Study
For two years, researchers have studied 44 groups of Omura’s whales and collected skin samples from 18 of the adult whales. Biopsies had confirmed that they were indeed Omura’s whales. The researchers also observed four female adults and their calves, and recorded the whales’ vocalisations, which may indicate reproductive behaviour.

What was surprising was where the whales had been found. "From the little information about their habitat and range, Omura’s whales were not supposed to be in that part of the Indian Ocean,” said lead author Salvatore Cerchio, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Although the researchers gained new insights about the Omura’s whales, many questions about the whales remain unanswered, like how many there were and whether the species was endangered. The population off the coast of Madagascar was simply too small and isolated, indicating a limited genetic diversity; hence this specific population at least could be considered endangered. Further research at Madagascar and elsewhere would be needed to provide deeper understanding into the life and distribution of this species.

Link to the study: rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/../2/10/150301