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The rare appearance of blue whales on the Red Sea


On Tuesday (05/29/2018), a rare endangered blue whale was unexpectedly found in the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea, by a fisherman. Egypt's Environment Ministry, as reported by the Smithsonianmag (1/6), reported this was the first time the world's largest animal was seen in these waters.

The ministry revealed that the 24-meter-long whale was confirmed to be a dwarf blue whale with the Latin name Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda. subspecies of blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) scattered in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific Ocean.

This mammal can grow up to 30 meters in length and weighs around 200 tons. Their tongue is almost as heavy as an elephant.

Blue whales are usually scattered in most of the world's oceans, but they avoid shallow seas and seas that are mostly covered by land, such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. That means seeing blue whales in the Red Sea region is indeed an unexpected thing.

While Egyptian authorities said in Science Alert (1/6), they monitored the whales carefully. It is not clear why the whale turned so far from his house.

Red Sea waters not only far from where these whales usually gather, but the temperature of the Red Sea is also very much different, which is warmer than the native habitat of blue whales.

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In a season like this, blue whales have a habit of migrating towards cooler water to find food. It is only when winter, these whales will move to warmer temperatures to breed.

The fact that the whale is walking alone is not too unusual. The pope often travels alone or in small groups, two or three groups, although it does not rule out the possibility of them gathering in larger groups, for example during the feeding season.

However, as stated by the Israel National Park Authority in posting on Facebook, whales sometimes travel long distances and sometimes increase the range of migration for various reasons, such as food availability, habitat damage, climate change, and other causes.

Dwarf blue whales found about 300 meters from the beach, as quoted by Egypt Today (31/5), do not pose a threat to tourists or divers. One thing is certain, the whale lost its direction during the migration season.

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In the past, according to the 2017 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), several species of whales, including humpback whales, have been seen in the Red Sea. But only nine species of whales and dolphins are known to cross the sea regularly and large whales are rarely seen.

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, one of the authors of the report, told David Obura of The Conversation that the waters of the Red Sea were not very friendly to large whales.

The whales usually depend on rising currents from deep waters to fertilize phytoplankton, which is eaten by zooplankton, which in turn is consumed by small creatures that like whales eat.

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Because rising currents are rare in the Red Sea, such food chains, according to Notarbartolo, are difficult. Therefore, large whales are difficult to live in the area because they need large flocks of krill and small crustaceans to survive.

Fortunately, blue whales that roam the Red Sea this week seem to have managed to live well. "It seems to be in good condition," Oz Goffman, director of the Israeli Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center, told Haaretz. "We hope that the big blue whale can return home safely."

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), blue whales received protection status threatened with extinction in 1966 due to relentless hunting in early 1900 to the mid-1960s. Now, the population is estimated to have only 25,000 in the world's oceans.

In Indonesia, blue whales are protected animals and are listed in PP 7 of 1999.

This number shows the blue whale population around the world is fragile. Animal populations that can reach 200 tons are threatened by chemical and sound populations, habitat loss, overfishing, predator attacks, and ship collisions.

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Not only that, climate change is also a serious threat to the blue whale. Hot temperatures make them have to find food further south and make them more difficult to reach.

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