Humpback whale sighted off Miri coast


Friday July 6, 2007

Humpback whale sighted off Miri coast


KUCHING: A humpback whale was sighted off the coast of Miri last month and is the first time the endangered specie has been seen in Malaysian waters.

The dark-grey whale, spotted by a team on aerial marine life survey on June 24, was at least 10m long.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah marine mammal and fishery services lecturer Dr Saifullah A. Jaaman said it was easy to identify the humpback whale because of its distinct physical features and behaviour.

The flippers of the humphack whale made up about one-third of its body and when it dives, it brings up its tail, he told reporters at the Sarawak Forestry office here yesterday.

Dr Saifullah, the survey teams technical advisor, said the migratory humpback whales, which fed on small fish, had been sighted in Philippine waters before. The survey, which took more than two weeks, ended yesterday.

It was carried out by Sarawak Forestry in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Sabah Wildlife Department.

The team spent about 30 hours in a Cessna aircraft for the survey which covered the stretch of water from Lawas in northern Sarawak to Tanjung Datu in the south.

Sarawak Forestrys chief wildlife warden Wilfred Landong described the sighting of the humpback whale and several other marine animals as most exciting.

He said the team recorded nearly 60 sightings of animals including 13 individual dugongs in three groups, seven whales, some 140 dolphins belonging to four species, nine rays, six sharks and 13 marine turtles.