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A whale of a tale: Female whale makes a 1,500km ocean trek in search of a mate
December 26, 2017 | 7:06 PM
by Times News Service
The importance of Luban’s journey has caught the interest of marine mammal researchers working off the west coast of India who are trying to locate the whale.
 
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Muscat: An Arabian Sea Humpback Whale that was tagged in the Gulf of Masirah has stunned scientists by turning up off the coast of India after a trans-oceanic journey.

The whale’s tagged journey has challenged the view that the Arabian Sea Humpback Whale does not stray far from home.

The tagged whale, nicknamed “Luban” is a female and has made the 1,500km journey during the known mating season.

She travelled over 1,500 kms in nine days.



“Luban started heading east across the Indian Ocean on December 12 and arrived off the Indian state of Goa on December 21 after a journey of over 1,500 km. Over the last few days it has been heading steadily south at 5km per hour and its last known location was off the town of Mangaluru in the Indian state of Karnataka,” an Environment Society of Oman (ESO) statement read.

The importance of Luban’s journey has caught the interest of marine mammal researchers working off the west coast of India who are trying to locate the whale.

Luban is one of 14 whales that have been tagged by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) under the Renaissance Whale and Dolphin Project, and the first tagged female. ESO started deploying satellite tags on the endangered species in 2014.

Andrew Wilson from Five Oceans Environmental Services (5OES) in Muscat said: “The fact that one female has now moved outside Omani waters during the known breeding seasonnow makes this theory concerning connectively across the region more likely and a first step. In the long term this question may be more fully investigated through genetic studies.

“It also raises the question as to whether there are more whales out there than have been only observed in Omani waters and most importantly where other important habitats may lie”.

Programme Director at the Environment Society of OmanSuaad Al Harthisaid: “The challenge is now on to connect multiple lines of evidence using the satellite tracking, photo identification and humpback song analysis from acoustic recording units from across the region to produce population estimates, understand connectivity in greater detail and identify important habitats.”

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