A solitary whale frequently spotted in the Bohol Sea in the southern Philippines has long had a nickname: Bughaw, or “blue.” Now, thanks to recently published research, the whale also has a confirmed species and subspecies, knowledge that could shift understanding about the distribution of whale populations throughout the southern Pacific. True to his name, Bughaw is a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), a species that until recently experts thought did not venture into Philippine waters. Given the whale’s location and relatively small size, estimated at 19-22 meters (62-72 feet), he has been identified as a pygmy blue whale (B. m. brevicauda), a different subspecies from the true blue whale (B. m. musculus), which can grow up to 30 m (98 ft). No blue whale sightings were reported in the Philippines between 1870 and 2004. The first time was when a mother and calf were spotted by a TV crew in the Bohol Sea. The pair were initially identified as Bryde’s whales (B. edeni), a species known to visit the area. Since then, there have been 33 documented blue whale sightings in the Philippines, all in the Bohol Sea. Bughaw, a pygmy blue whale, captured during one of the vessel surveys in the Bohol Sea. Until recently experts thought this species did not venture into Philippine waters. Image courtesy of Jo Marie Acebes/BALYENA.ORG. The Bohol Sea, north of the Philippines’ southernmost island of Mindanao, is considered one of the country’s important marine mammal areas (IMMAs). It’s also a key marine biodiversity…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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