Monday, 26 October 2015

Rare whale confirmed in the wild for the first time

Known only from DNA samples from whaling samples and the occasional body from a stranding scientists for the first time have confirmed a sighting of a rare whale.

The Omura's whales live off the coast of Madagascar and are often confused for the Bryde's whales because they look so much alike. Scientists though have made the first field observations of this rare whale and published their results in Royal Society Open Science journal.

The study describes the behaviour of feeding in the shallow waters off the coast of Madagascar and also describes the vocalisations of the whales.

While the Omura's whale is similar to the Bryde's whale there are distinct differences allowing people to recognise the species. The Omura's is smaller than the Brydes and most noticeable are the distinct markings around the lower jaw. The Omura's have a white marking on the left side of the jaw and a dark marking on the right side.

The species was set apart from other whales as recently as 2003 when DNA samples from whaling victims were analysed. The data was further confirmed with samples taken from strandings on the Pacific coast but no confirmed sightings of the species in the wild had been made until this study.

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