Rare white Omura’s whale spotted off Phuket, Thailand (video)

Picture courtesy of Happy Ours Phuket Charter Team

An unexpected encounter with a white Omura’s whale off the coast of Koh He in Phuket marked a potentially unique event, as it could be the first sighting of this incredibly rare species in Thailand and perhaps globally. This news was shared by Associate Professor Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University.

The marine biologist yesterday shared on Facebook that the marine creature, sighted on the afternoon of January 1, south of Koh He, appeared to be an Omura’s whale, not a Bruda whale. He differentiated them by stating that an Omura’s whale has a single ridge on the front of its head, in contrast to the Bruda whale, which has three.

The unusual sighting occurred at around 4pm when a person aboard a boat named Happy Ours spotted the whale accompanied by another Omura’s whale, approximately 9 kilometres south of Koh He, reported Bangkok Post.

Thon informed that Omura’s whales are primarily found in Southeast Asia’s seas and the waters located south of Japan. In Thailand, these mammals have been sighted both in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, with more frequent sightings in the Andaman Sea.

He further highlighted the rarity of a white Omura’s whale, calling it doubly rare and estimating the chances of spotting one to be approximately one in 10 million or more.

Yutthapong Damsrisuk, the chief of Nopparatthara-Phi Phi island park, shared last week that a group of tourists had reported seeing a 7-metre white whale near Phi Phi island, and authorities were attempting to confirm its species.

In light of these sightings, tour boats and fishing vessels have been advised to exercise extra caution in areas known for the presence of Omura’s whales. The rare sightings underscore the rich biodiversity of marine life in the Andaman Sea.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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