BEACON TRANSCRIPT – An accidental find, as incredibly rare Omura’s whales were spotted near Madagascar, much to the surprise, fascination, and excitement of the team of researchers. They are exceptionally enigmatic creatures. In fact, there have been no confirmed sightings of their kind in the wild before.
Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai), or otherwise known as dwarf fin whales, first became its own species in 2003. For the first time, a team of researchers managed to get a glimpse of the rare specimen on camera.
Due to the limited encounters, the scientific community have little to no information on the elusive marine mammal. Their breeding patterns, group activities, or communication are widely unknown. However, Salvatore Cerchio and his team had caught one specimen on tape, and studied a few more.
While conducting a field research in 2011, off coast of Madagascar, Cerchio and his team spotted the whales, but mistook them for Bryde’s whales, their distant relatives. It took sampling and further study to understand the magnitude of their discovery. Any known information about Omura’s whales come from only 8 specimens.
They were studied due to Japanese scientific whaling, off of Solomon and Keeling Islands.
Other than that, there have been several findings of the dead mammals washing up on the shores of Japan, and little else. As stated by Cerchio, they weren’t expecting to find them in the Indian Ocean. Regardless, after further study from 2013 and on, he managed to discover even bigger groups.
The researchers were able to collect 18 skin samples (biopsies), and observed a number of 44 groups of Omura’s whales. By using hydrophones, they managed to even record their song-like sounds, likely vocalizing during mating season. Cerchio even suggested that their frequency in high numbers around Madagascar might mean they’re near their breeding grounds.
The team managed to capture one on tape, photograph, and catalog around 25 different specimen’s of Omura’s whales. This included four mothers and their younglings swimming around the waters near Madagascar. It’s an exceptional find, and proof that an animal which was thought to be extinct is still thriving.
Cerchio and his team hope to return to the site this month in order to better observe them. He has voiced out his intent to tag a few of them to better understand their behavior or patterns. If the missions is a success, then perhaps the scientific community will have additional information and images of this rare mammal.
Image source: bbc.com