Based on an analysis of sound recordings from the region, scientists have found evidence of a previously undiscovered population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean. This advance highlights the worldwide distribution of the largest animals that have ever lived on earth.
While these highly endangered mammals are found in all oceans around the globe and sing very deep and recognizable songs, the researchers, including those from the New England Aquarium in the United States, said that each blue whale population has its own unique song.
In one recently published study In the journal Endangered Species Research, the scientists analyzed records from the coast of the Arabian Sea in Oman to Madagascar and found a blue whale song that had never been described.
Based on the analysis, the researchers believe they have discovered a previously undetected population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean.
“It was quite remarkable to find in your data a whale song that was completely unique and never reported before and recognize it as a blue whale,” said Salvatore Cerchio, co-author of the study at the New England Aquarium.
According to the researchers, this blue whale population was previously thought to be part of the same population that was studied off Sri Lanka as far as the south-central Indian Ocean.
However, the new study found that the recorded songs in these two regions tell a different story.
“There was no acoustic data from the Arabian Sea prior to our exposure off Oman, so the identity of this blue whale population was initially just a guess,” said study co-author Andrew Willson of Five Oceans Environmental Services LLC.
“Our work shows that there is much more to be learned about these animals and it is an urgent need given the multitude of threats to large whales related to the expansion of the marine industry in the area,” Willson said
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