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Rare Omura Whale Springs A Surprise On Researchers By Showing Up In Indian Ocean [Video]

Update Date: Nov 03, 2015 11:08 AM EST
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The world's rarest whale which has never been caught on camera before has been spotted, giving scientists the opportunity to learn more about the deep-sea creatures.

The Omura Whale (Balaenoptera omurai) is so rare that scientists did not count it as a unique species until 2003, according to The Washington Post. In a surprising find, marine biologists spotted 44 groups of Omura whales near Madagascar comprising 25 individuals.

"They appear to occur in remote regions and are difficult to find at sea because they are small-they range in length from approximately 33 to 38 feet-and do not put up a prominent blow," said Salvatore Cerchio lead author of the paper published in the Royal Society Open Journal.

"From the little information on their habitat and range, Omura's whales were not supposed to be in that part of the Indian Ocean," he added.

Information that scientists had about the whale species came from samples of dead whales taken following whaling expeditions from Japan and Solomon and Keeling Islands.

To better understand the species, they collected skin biopsies from 18 adult whales over the two-year study period. DNA analysis confirmed that the Omura are indeed distinct species.

The team now hopes to study the whale's behavior and also estimate their population off the coast of Madagascar.

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