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Satellite-tracked Arabian humpback whale arrives in Kerala
January 3, 2018 | 9:35 PM
by Staff Reporter
The satellite-tracked Arabian humpback whale arrived in Kerala waters on January 1, and had left the Gulf of Oman two months ago. Photo: Supplied
 
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Thiruvananthapuram: Oman’s favourite whale, Luban, has arrived in waters off the coast of Kerala, according to Indian researchers who’ve been tracking his movements.

The satellite-tracked Arabian humpback whale arrived in Kerala waters on January 1. It had left the Gulf of Oman two months ago.

Luban was one of the 14 whales that was tagged by the Environment Society of Oman under the Renaissance Whale and Dolphin Project. A. Biju Kumar, Director, Research, of the Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries of the University of Kerala, said that his department has been partnering with the Omani society in tracking the animal as part of the efforts for documenting the marine biodiversity off Indian waters.

It began heading east, across the Indian Ocean on December 12. After completing a journey of around 1,500 km, it reached the coast of Goa during the last week of December. It stayed 30 km off the Kochi coast on the New Year eve and has started migrating further south towards Alappuzha, the communication said.



Satellite data revealed that the animal was heading steadily south at a pace of 5km/hr.

The humpback whale is one of the four species of baleen whales found in Indian waters and it is one of the least studied species in India.

Scientists opined that the animal might be searching for a suitable mate in Indian waters. The rich and productive waters off southwest coast of India may also provide it with copious supply of its favourite food, the communication said.

The researchers tracked the movement of the animal with the help of an Indian Coast Guard ship to make a survey around Kochi to locate the migrating Luban.

On December 31, Dr Biju with Dr Dipani, partner in the Arabian Humpback Whale monitoring Network, started tracking the whale. The Arabian Sea Humpback Whale 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. Andrew Wilson from Five Oceans Environmental Services (5OES) in Muscat had said one female has now moved outside Omani waters during the known breeding season now makes this theory concerning connectively across the region more likely and a first step. “In the long term this question may be fully investigated through genetic studies,” he said.— With input from agencies

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