Omura's Whale

Photo credit: Mail Online

Footage of the elusive Omura’s whale has been captured by an international team of biologists off the coast of Madagascar. “Over the years, there have been a small handful of possible sightings of Omura’s whales, but nothing that was confirmed. They appear to occur in remote regions and are difficult to find at sea, because they are small-they range in length from approximately 33 to 38 feet-and do not put up a prominent blow. This is the first definitive evidence and detailed descriptions of Omura’s whales in the wild and part of what makes this work particularly exciting,” said Salvatore Cerchio, who led the research while at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Continue reading for another video and more information.

The scientific description of this whale was made in Nature in 2003 by three Japanese scientists. They determined the existence of the species by analyzing the morphology and mitochondrial DNA of nine individuals – eight caught by Japanese research vessels in the late 1970s in the Indo-Pacific and an adult female collected in 1998 from Tsunoshima, an island in the Sea of Japan. Later abundant genetic evidence confirmed Omura’s whale as a valid species and revealed it to be an early offshoot from the rorqual lineage, diverging much earlier than the Bryde’s and sei whales. It is perhaps more closely related to its larger cousin, the blue whale.