bowhead and omura
Larger groups of up to half-a-dozen in a relatively small area have been seen; the whales seem to be within hearing range of each other, but give each other plenty of personal space. Thus, the discovery of a tractable population of Omura’s whales in the tropics presents an opportunity for understanding the ecological factors driving potential convergence of life-history patterns with the distantly related Bryde’s whales. Studies on feeding ecology using field observations and stable isotopes are feasible given the accessibility of the population, and will inform the ecological parameters that influence spatial and temporal distribution. 5.40 Hz) and high frequency of 52.9 Hz (s.d.

Regarding seasonal timing of parturition, Yamada [16] reports a neonate of 3 m in length in late August in Miyazaki Prefecture, southern Japan; our observations of young calves in August and in November are both congruent with this report, and suggest that birthing may occur over a protracted period, but more data are needed to determine whether it is seasonal or year round. In regards to directed takes, it is known to have been taken in Japanese research whaling in small numbers [1,5], as well as shore-based Philippine artisanal whaling in the Bohol Sea [8,12] in numbers which may have been substantial in comparison to population size. The Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai) was initially confused with and classified as Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) during research whaling operations which took 459 specimens in the western Pacific and east Indian Oceans during the 1970s [5]; however, eight of these whales were later described as a distinct species and an ancient lineage basal to a B. edeni/Balaenoptera borealis clade [1,2]. There are reported sightings of live animals with photographic evidence from Thailand [16,22], New Caledonia [23,24] and the Lacepede Islands, northwest Australia ( Enter your email address below and we will send you the reset instructions., which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited. The calf observed in August 2011 had an erect dorsal fin, however, it was still clearly a calf of the year and we believe it unlikely that is was born prior to November of the previous year, suggesting a protracted calving period. A similar relationship was found by Yoshida & Kato [11] for the same Solomon Island samples using mtDNA partial control region and cytochrome b.

“Little by little it became clear that there were a lot more out there that could be researched and tallied,” he said. By-catch (entanglement) in local fisheries has been reported at least in Songkhla, Thailand [22], and given an apparent shallow-water habitat preference, it is likely that the species is vulnerable to by-catch throughout its range. Although our data cover a relatively short period of the year, there is indication that the species may be present most of the year, with reports of similar-sized aggregations of individuals from April through to December.

Rosel & Wilcox [4] also found extremely low diversity within a population of B. edeni in the Gulf of Mexico (GOMx), with only two haplotypes found in a 375 bp fragment of the mitochondrial control region and three haplotypes in the complete 936 bp control region among 23 samples, and similar low diversity for two other mitochondrial genes (cytb and cox1, each with no variability) and among 42 nuclear microsatellite loci.

We consider this population of small rorquals off northwest Madagascar to be unequivocally B. omurai given: (i) the genetic distinctiveness of B. omurai relative to other balaenopterids [1,2]; (ii) the close similarity of the Madagascar sequences to B. omurai sequences from Japan, East China Sea, Solomon Islands and Cocos Islands; and (iii) the phylogenetic reconstruction that places the Madagascar sequences within the well-supported clade of other B. omurai sequences. The body is asymmetrically marked (similar to a fin whale). Size of these animals was smaller than other southern African Bryde’s whales, even in comparison to the inshore small-form found off South Africa; however, at modes of 12.2 m for males and 13.1 m for females, these whales were somewhat larger than reported for B. omurai in the eastern portion of the range (10–12 m [16]; 9.6–11.2 m [1]). Omura’s whales were at first mistaken for little Bryde’s whales when spotted in the wild as they are a very similar size and live in the same tropical seas. The bowhead whale gastrointestinal system is complex. An Omura’s whale in waters off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The ventral grooves extend beyond the umbilicus and number approximately 80–90, which is diagnostic in comparison to Bryde’s whales having 42–54 grooves, at least for B. Thus, among these studies, at least three phylogenetically distinct taxa (B. edeni edeni, B. edeni GOMx and B. omurai) have been identified with low population genetic diversity.


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