Video of a rare whale surfaces – species so uncommon, their population is unknown
Despite the earth being more than 4.5 bn years old and 200,000 years of existence of the human race, we are still discovering new species of plants and animals by thousands every year.
A new species of whales was discovered for the first time, although at 30+ feet long, they are quite hard to miss. Here is the whole story of the newest member of the whale family and how the team which discovered the live population of this rare whale, almost missed it.
1 The Omura Whale
This whale is a species of rorqual and it is so rare, that there is very little known about this whale. This whale is known as Omura’s whale after Japanese cetologist Hideo Omura. The first specimens of this whale were caught by Japanese vessels in 1970s in the Indo-Pacific region and one adult female was caught in 1998.
The whale resembles its bigger cousin fin whale. It also has a dorsal fin similar to that of it’s another cousin, the Bryde’s whale. The whales have asymmetrical appearance, with left side darker than the right side which is brighter in color.
2 Characteristics of the whale
The whale is generally 30ft -38 ft long. The images were taken by biologist Salvatore Cerchio, who says that he was very excited because he knew his team had found the Omura’s whale. The whales were thousands of kilometers further west from the area that they were thought to roam. The scientist says that some of his teammates thought it might be a new species and they even began to think of new names.
Genetic tests established that they had found the first live population of Omura’s whales in late 2014. Their unique pattern makes each whale recognizable.
3 The discovery
The team led by biologist Salvatore Cerchio found and spotted four mothers along with their calves, when they realized that they were not seeing Bryde’s whale but the very rare and obscure Omura’s whales. The calves also suggested that the population of this rare whale breed and raise their young ones in the Madagascar area.
Nothing much is known about their diet or what kind of things they eat. According to Cerchio, the whale would lunge feed. The whale would increase its speed, open its mouth wide and suck in huge volumes of water, which is filtered through tight, hairy plates known as baleen.
The team also noticed that they couldn’t see any fish or anything because of the speed and speculate that they might be eating plankton.
4 How rare are they?
The whales are so rare that the team led by Cerchio almost missed them. In 2011, the team was surveying the Madagascar’s coastal areas when they encountered these whales. What they thought was that, they saw some Bryde’s whales.
This is the first time the evidence of live whales was caught on film. Before that, only skeletons or dead whales were caught since it’s discovery in the 1970s. The species were confirmed in 2003 for the first time by Japanese scientists.
The whales were previously confused with Bryde’s whales. Omura’s whales never show both their heads and dorsal fins together, and never tend to lift their tails out of water during a dive. “The whales surface briefly and reveal little of their bodies,” says Cerchio.
The animal kingdom is so vast and still keeps coming up with amazing surprises. The filming of this rare whale shows that the oceans are one of the greatest treasures of nature which have great living organisms roaming in it. Every once in a while we keep discovering new species, thinking that now we know more about our earth, but nature keeps proving us wrong. But. this is the beauty of our mother nature, that is just keeps leaving us in a state of joy of having found new members.