Egypt’s Environment Ministry is closely following up on the sighting last week of a huge blue whale in the Red Sea Gulf of Aqaba. Monitoring squads affiliated to the ministry’s Nature Reserves Sector of the Red Sea and South Sinai are photographing and videotaping the whale’s movements.
The whale had first been sighted last week, a first in the Red Sea which is a habitat not suited to blue whales. Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy said the whale might have lost its way during migration from South to North, and entered the Red Sea, an inlet of the Indian Ocean sandwiched between Africa and Asia. The blue whale has so far managed to survive well, but there are fears it might die of starvation, since the Red Sea cannot provide it with the nourishment it needs.
The ministry revealed that the whale measures 24 metres long, and belongs to a subspecies known as the pygmy blue whale.
Only nine species of whales and dolphins are known to occur in the Red Sea regularly, according to a 2017 report by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS); large whales are very rarely seen, and blue whales almost never. Blue Whales are on the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
The Red Sea waters are not hospitable to great whales. These whales usually rely on current upwellings from deep waters to fertilise phytoplankton, which are eaten by zooplankton, which are in turn consumed by the tiny critters that whales love to eat. Upwellings are rare in the Red Sea.
The environment Ministry said that blue whales are not known to attack humans, but has nonetheless asked bathers to keep a safe distance from it.
4 June 2018