Muscat: Environmentalists in Oman are concerned by the recent deaths of two endangered Arabian Sea humpback whales.
“The death of two Arabian sea humpback whales is of great concern, as it represents two per cent of the estimated population,” said Sayyida Tania Al Saeed, President of the Environment Society of Oman (ESO). There are approximately only 100 of the whales in the Arabian Gulf.
Marine scientist Andrew Wilson, who is a member of the Whale and Dolphin Research Team at the ESO, told Gulf News on Wednesday that fishermen alerted him to the news.
“Fishermen in Shuwaymiyah near Halaniyat Islands in the south saw dead whale floating and they took some pictures,” he said, adding that the other whale found in eastern Oman was apparently alive when it washed ashore.
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“The mobile phone proved to be a boon as locals not only took photographs but recorded videos of the stranded whale in Al Qurm, which is 50km south of Al Ashkharah,” he said.
Wilson added that a video footage showed that the whale was moving. “It must [have been] breathing its last,” he said.
“This is the first time we have come across the death of an Arabian Sea Humpback Whale in last 20 years and this would help us a great deal in the research work on this rare species,” he said.
Wilson said his team plans to do more research on the whales and that skin samples and photos taken by locals and fishermen would help in their research. “This, we believe, is a very small sub population that does not migrate as most whale populations do,” he said.
He added that this group tends to breed and remain in the same geographical area, or the Arabian Gulf.
He said that these animals sing, feed and males even fight by head butting each other.
According to IWC, their uniqueness makes these whales one of the most vulnerable whale populations in the world.
Wilson has urged people in Oman to report any sighting of dead whales – floating or washed ashore – to the ESO so that the body could be preserved and used for scientific research.