Evidence of a previously undiscovered population of blue whales living in the western Indian Ocean has been found based on an analysis of sound recordings from the region.
While these highly endangered mammals are found around the globe in all oceans and sing very low-pitched and recognizable songs, the researchers, including those from the New England Aquarium in the US, said every blue whale population has its own unique song.
In a recently published study in the journal, Endangered Species Research, the scientists analyzed recordings from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman to as far south as Madagascar and found a blue whale song that had never been described before.
Based on the analysis, the researchers believe they have discovered what is likely a previously unrecognized population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean.
“It was quite remarkable to find a whale song in your data that was completely unique, never before reported, and recognize it as a blue whale,” said study co-author Salvatore Cerchio from the New England Aquarium.Advertisement
According to the researchers, this population of blue whales was previously assumed to belong to the same species that had been studied off Sri Lanka, ranging into the southcentral Indian Ocean. However, the new study found that the recorded songs in these two regions tell a different story.
“Before our recording effort off Oman, there were no acoustic data from the Arabian Sea, and so the identity of that population of blue whales was initially just a guess. Our work shows that there is a lot more to learn about these animals, and this is an urgent requirement in light of the wide range of threats to large whales related to expanding maritime industries in the region,” said study co-author Andrew Willson from Five Oceans Environmental Services LLC.