Tourists enjoying a boat trip yesterday were treated to a rare display of a pair of Bryde’s whales showing off in the Andaman Sea off Phang Na province.
According to Lertsak Ponklin, the president of Phang Nga Tourism Business Association, the two giant sea mammals were spotted frolicking in the Similan Islands National Park.
The tourists aboard the Wow Andaman boat had just left the island of Koh Kao yesterday morning when the whales surfaced close to the boat. The tourists quickly grabbed their phones and cameras to snap photos of the rare sight, and the whales obliged them by hanging around on the surface for about 10 minutes before diving back into the deep. The boat then continued its trip to the nearby Surin Islands.
Bryde’s whales, which are identifiable by the three ridges on their forehead, were listed as a protected species in Thailand in 2019. Sightings of these large creatures, which feed on fish, plankton, and squid, are an indication of the richness of local marine resources.
Last month, three Bryde’s whales were spotted at Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park off the coast of Surat Thani province in the Gulf of Thailand.
In November last year, three rare species of whales and dolphins were sighted by members of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department trawling the Gulf of Thailand.
Scientists were surveying waters along Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, and Phetchaburi when they observed an Irrawaddy dolphin at the mouth of Tha Chin River in Samut Sakhon and near the coast of Phetchaburi.
The marine biologists were able to photograph the three rare cetaceans and give identities to six Bryde’s whales. They were named Chao Mee Sap, Chao Kwan Khao, Mae Sakhon, Chao Sarin, Mae Wandee and Jao Warnung.
Bryde’s whales (pronounced “broo–dess“) are one of the most commonly seen large whales in Thailand. They are found in the Andaman and Gulf of Thailand, where they feed on small fish, squid and other prey.
Bryde’s whales range in size from 9–13 metres and weigh around 10–14 tons. These whales are usually seen in small groups of 2–6 individuals, though larger aggregations have been observed.
Bryde’s whales are known for their elaborate courtship displays, and in Thailand, they can often be seen breaching, lobtailing and spyhopping. These whales are also active foragers, and can be seen lunging and bubble–net feeding.
There is currently no estimated population size for Bryde’s whales in Thailand, but they are considered to be at risk due to entanglement in fishing gear and plastic pollution.