Rare Whale Caught on Camera For The First Time Ever

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If you hadn’t already guessed by the number of cat and dog memes we post on our Facebook every single day, here at RiseFeed we’re crazy about our animals. And this exciting news about a rare whale being caught on camera for the first time ever has given us many reasons to smile this morning. After all, we’re always reading articles about animals that have been driven to extinction, so it’s fantastic to get some good news for once.

The exotically named Omura’s Whale was spotted off the coast of Madagascar by researchers. The team included Salvatore Cerchio while he was at the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2011. And, amazingly, they were able to obtain this one-of-a-kind footage, which was confirmed in 2013 to be of an Omura’s Whale after a skin sample analysis:

Details about the discovery were recently published in an issue of the journal Royal Society Open Science. And the news has sent researchers into a bit of a tailspin. While there have been a few potential sightings of them at sea over the years, these rare whales have always remained a mystery to scientists. Cerchio said in a news release, “They appear to occur in remote regions and are difficult to find at sea, because they are small and do not put up a prominent blow.”

So, you might be asking, how do scientists know anything about these rare whales? Well, the only Omura’s whales that have been found up until now were dead ones. And even then they were initially mistaken for the similar Bryde’s whales – until DNA tests proved otherwise and revealed there was a whole separate species out there.

What do we know about these rare whales?

Well, not actually that much. This species of rare whale are generally between 33 and 38 feet in length. This typically makes them less than half the size of most of their cousins, the blue whales. As mentioned before, Omura’s Whales are very similar in ‘whale design’ to others species. However, if you want to find one for yourself in the wild, just look out for their jaw – they have one that’s very distinctively half white and half black.

Rare whale: this picture gives an idea of what the Omura's Whales look like
The rare whale has distinctive features |Credit: whrhsmarinebiology.wikispaces.com

Unfortunately, because Omura’s Whales are so uncommon, scientists have just no idea how many there are out there. However, during the expedition Cerchio’s team were able to identify around 25 individual whales, including four mothers with young calves. Whale vocalisations were also recorded during the expedition, which researchers believe might indicate reproductive behaviour.

Rare whale spotted: and it's probably the most beautiful whale out there. Can I say that? I'm saying it.
The rare whale’s distinctive features | Credit: Salvatore Cerchio

As can be expected with whales having, y’know, quite a large area of ocean to play with, Omura’s Whales are quite slippery to place. While these researchers spotted this selection in the Indian Ocean, they’re actually supposed to reside in the West Pacific, over near Thailand and the Philippines. Which pretty much makes them the Scarlet Pimpernel of whales.

So, now what? Well, the good news is that further research is planned. Cerchio himself plans to return to the area in a bid to study the Omura’s Whales further – and maybe even tag some. At least he knows what he’s looking for now, I guess.

Did you enjoy reading about this rare whale species? Why not have a read of some of our other articles, including 18 Impossibly Cute Animals in Halloween Costumes and 7 Animals Who Make More Money Than You