A white Omura’s whale has been spotted by a traveler aboard a boat 9 kilometers south of Koh Hey in Phuket, with marine biologists saying that the sighting could possibly be the first-ever recorded one of this elusive species in Thailand and perhaps even worldwide.
Assoc Prof Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist at Kasetsart University, identified the whale based on its distinctive single ridge on the front of its head, a feature that sets the Omura’s whale apart from the Bruda whale.
Omura’s whales, a species mainly found in Southeast Asia and the waters south of Japan, are a rare sight. In Thailand, they are more commonly sighted in the Andaman Sea compared to the Gulf of Thailand. The sighting of a white Omura’s whale is particularly rare, with Assoc Prof Thon suggesting the probability of such an event is about one in 10 million.
Officials also reported another recent sighting of a 7-meter white whale by tourists near Phi Phi island. They are currently working to confirm the species of this marine creature. Tour boats and fishing vessels are urged to be vigilant when operating in areas known to be inhabited by Omura’s whales.