Australia

Carcass of rare whale found on Australia beach

A dead Omura's whale on a beach near Exmouth, Western Australia. 14 Apr 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Omura's whale was first identified as a distinct species in 2003

The carcass of a rare whale has been washed up on a Western Australia beach following Tropical Cyclone Olwyn, which hit the region last month.

It is only the second time an Omura's whale has been recorded in Australia.

The whale was found on a remote beach near the town of Exmouth, 1,265km (784 miles) north of Perth.

Scientists say the discovery will help them learn more about the species and better understand its regional distribution.

Omura's whales have a streamlined body shape and several unique skeletal features that distinguish them from other whales.

"This find is highly significant for whale scientists in Western Australia and researchers globally because there have not been many recorded sightings of this species, so very little is known about it," said Western Australia Environment Minister Albert Jacob.

"Omura's whale was only described in scientific journals for the first time in 2003 and is apparently restricted to tropical and subtropical waters.

"The knowledge we gain from this whale will help to improve field identification guides to better understand the whale's regional distribution."

He added: "Scientists know a fair bit about many whale species but this exciting discovery shows there is still so much more to learn in our oceans."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that only a handful of Omura's whales have been found before, including in the Sea of Japan and the Solomon Sea.

Little is known about them and it is still not possible to estimate their numbers.

Related Topics