A rarely seen Omura’s whale has been spotted on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the few sightings globally of a species that scientists know little about. Only a handful of specimens have been found before, including in the Sea of Japan and the Solomon Sea. Discovered in 2003 by Japanese researchers, genetic data confirmed the whale as its own species in 2006. Given the scarcity of information about them, with little known of their ecology and virtually nothing about its reproductive biology, there is no population estimate. The animals, which have a streamlined and sleek body shape and several unique skeletal features distinguishing them from other whales, are often incorrectly identified as a small Fin whale or Bryde’s whale.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Robinson/NPL