Sperm whales, Striped dolphins and beaked whales discovered in South China Sea

Several rare species of whales and dolphins have been discovered in the South China Sea during a recent scientific investigation.

Researchers have found rare sperm whales and striped dolphins in the area after a 14-day investigation that covered 2,500 km. Mother and baby sperm whales and beaked whales were observed, which, according to experts indicates a possible habitat.

sperm-whale in South China Sea off Hainan
Sperm-whales were discovered in South China Sea off Hainan

Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator with a worldwide range, which migrate seasonally for feeding and breeding. Females and young males live together in groups, while mature males (bulls) live solitary lives outside of the mating season.

Mature males average 16 metres (52 ft) in length but some may reach 20.5 metres (67 ft), with the head representing up to one-third of the animal’s length. Plunging to 2,250 metres (7,382 ft), it is the second deepest diving mammal.

striped dolphin in South China Sea off Hainan
Striped dolphins were discovered in South China Sea off Hainan

The striped dolphin is usually found in temperate and tropical waters of all the world’s oceans. They are usually easy to identify, the underside is blue, white, or pink, one or two black bands circle the eyes, and then run across the back, to the flipper. 

It is found in abundance in the North and South Atlantic Oceans, including the Mediterranean and Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. 

Beaked Whale in South China Sea off Hainan
Beaked Whales were discovered in South China Sea off Hainan

Beaked whales are toothed whales and are distinguished by their elongated beaks. Among air-breathing animals, beaked whales are some of the most extreme divers. They have been studied regularly diving for up to an hour at depths over 1,000 m (3,300 ft), and the longest and deepest foraging dive recorded is 137.5 minutes at 2,992 m (9,816 ft). 

Beaked whales are one of the least known groups of mammals because of their deep-sea habitat and apparent rarity.

Location

The investigation was conducted in an area about 400 km long and 200 km wide offshore of south China’s island province of Hainan.

Li Songhai, a researcher with the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the investigation aims to gain insight into the formation, distribution and living habits of the whales in this area.

The researchers spotted 27 groups of whales, including seven identified species of whales and dolphins, two species are yet to be identified

Li said the investigation results show the biodiversity of the whales in the South China Sea, which is of great significance to the study and protection of whales.

Source: Xinhua