Study confirms Blue Whales are back in Philippines waters

Study confirms Blue Whales are back in Philippines waters

 

Blue whales in the Philippines!

No sightings of these majestic creatures have been recorded since 1870, and it was only in 2004 the first time a mother and calf were spotted by a TV crew in the Bohol Sea. The pair were initially identified as Bryde’s whales (B. edeni), a species known to visit the area. Since then, there have been 33 documented blue whale sightings in the Philippines, all in the Bohol Sea.

Record would show that the blue whale is largest creature that has ever existed. It is larger than any dinosaur that was ever discovered. Even the pygmy blue whale, a smaller species of blue whale, still eclipses all other whales in terms of size and weight.

(photo credit to owner)


According to a study published ( Journal of Threathened Taxa), there have been at least 33 sightings of blue whales in the Bohol Sea from 2004 to 2019. Around half of these sightings are believed to be of a pygmy blue whale that locals named Bughaw.

The true blue whale or the Antartic blue whale can grow up to 33 meters long and weigh 150,000 kilograms, as compared to the pygmy blue whale can grow up to 24 meters long and weigh up to 80,000 kilograms, or the equivalent mass of 20 African elephants. 

“This individual, recognized through photo-identification, was sighted on at least 13 occasions during eight different years from 2010 to 2019,” wrote the authors. 

Researchers say that Bughaw belongs to one of the four blue whale subspecies called  Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda. According to the study, the re-sighting of a single animal on 13 occasions across eight years suggests there could be more blue whales visiting the region. Sightings occurred between January to July.

Bughaw, a pygmy blue whale, captured during one of the vessel surveys in the Bohol Sea. (Balyena.org)


“The geographic location and timing of the sightings suggest that blue whales in the Philippines may extend the outer range edge of the Indo-Australian population that migrates between western Australia, Indonesia, and East Timor,” the authors wrote. 

“Blue whale sightings in the Bohol Sea coincide with times of high ocean productivity, although further investigation is needed to determine if they are actually feeding in this region.”

 

Sanctuary for Whales – Bohol Sea

 

In 2020, after decades of absence killer whales and dolphins emerged in the Bohol Sea after decades of absence. Hundreds of dolphins were reportedly seen by residents in July 2020. Earlier in June 2020, a pack of orcas or killer whales was also sighted in the waters of Bohol. 

Next to the Sulu Sea where the Tubbataha Reefs are located, the Bohol Sea is considered one of the country’s most crucial natural treasures. It is listed as an important marine mammal area (IMMA) and is key marine biodiversity area.

 

 

 

 

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