Up until now, Omura’s whale was rarely spotted and therefore not much data was available. The mythical marine mammal took marine biologists by surprise when they recorded images and videos of the rare Omura’s whales for the first time off the coast of Madagascar.
While the picture is starting to become more clear, much remains unknown. Scientists do know that the whale is 33 to 38 feet long. Still, beyond the basic size and shape of the whale, little remains known as the only other time information has been gathered on these whales was through Japanese whaling expeditions.
The only population estimate that may relate to Omura’s whale is based on data for the Solomon Islands “Bryde’s whale” stock. The sample size was small however, and the method used is now outdated. The current global population remains unknown.
A study led by Salvatore Cerchio has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science and is based on the findings of a team of researchers led by Cerchio. He is a guest investigator with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a staff member at the New England Aquarium. The researcher and his team have been studying marine mammals off Madagascar since 2007.
Cerchio said in a press release, “This is the first strong confirmation and detailed descriptions of Omura’s whales in the wild and following the pattern makes the findings exciting.”
It was 2011 when the team first spotted Omura’s whales at this region and they thought that they were looking at Bryde’s whales due to the striking similarity both the mammals have. The only difference between the two is that the latter is slightly bigger than the former.
Since the range of the species was poorly known and described only recently, it may have been subject to catching by commercial whaling operations.
Due to the similarity between Omura’s whales and Bryde’s whales, the former may have been taken in the Philippines artisanal whale fisheries. Scientists still aren’t certain owing to the fact that both whale species closely resemble one another.
The range of Omura’s whale remains a mystery and this is due the fact that very few specimens have been taken.
Crechio’s team has documented the animal’s foraging behavior, environment inclination, and vocalizations. Cerchio and his team hopes to explore more about the mammal and intends to return to Madagascar this month in order to make more observations.