Friday, January 12, 2024
A remarkable encounter unfolded in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand as tourists on the "Happy Ours" charter boat bore witness to an extraordinary event — the potential first-ever sighting of an all-white Omura's Whale on New Year's Day.
The white cetacean, believed to be an albino, swam alongside another whale with its typical dark grey colour, creating a rare and magical spectacle.
The passengers aboard the boat caught up in the marvel of the moment, shouted in joy as the mysterious albino whale gracefully glided just below the water's surface, mere feet away from the vessel.
The whale later showcased its presence by breaching the water, adding to the excitement of those fortunate enough to witness the phenomenon.
The Environmental Conservation Organization, ThaiWhales, based in Bangkok, further investigated the unique sighting approximately 5.6 miles south of Coral Island, Phuket Province.
They identified the creature as an Omura's Whale by studying distinct features such as the single central ridge on the head, fin shape, balance, and posture.
This sighting marks the first known observation of an all-white Omura's Whale off the coast of Thailand and potentially globally. The Omura's whale, named after Japanese cetologist Hideo Omura, was initially "discovered" in 2003 through the analysis of corpses found in the 1970s. The first living Omura's whale in the wild was recognised in 2015.
While the species is distributed across all ocean basins except the central and eastern Pacific, the only genetically confirmed population resides off the coast of Madagascar. Experts anticipate future sightings in various locations, highlighting the whale's presence in tropical and warm-temperate seas worldwide.
The Omura's whale, known for its distinctive snake-like appearance due to its long, thin, and super-streamlined figure, is typically counter-shaded with a dark grey back and a whitish tint on its belly.
However, the albino individual spotted off the coast of Phuket exhibited an almost entirely white appearance, adding to the rarity and intrigue surrounding this remarkable marine mammal.