Rare cetacean species including sperm whale spotted in South China Sea
CGTN
00:49

A Chinese scientific research team while carrying out the world's first expedition to study deep diving and pelagic cetacean species in the South China Sea, spotted sperm whales and other elusive cetacean animals.

During the two-week expedition, the researchers from the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences observed 27 groups of deep diving and pelagic cetacean species, including sperm whales, the largest of all toothed whales, and Cuvier's beaked whales, the deepest diving whale.

A beaked whale swimming in the clear waters of the Hawaiian Islands. /VCG Photo

A beaked whale swimming in the clear waters of the Hawaiian Islands. /VCG Photo

Historical records show that nearly 40 cetacean species inhabit in waters off China's coastlines, including Chinese white dolphin, a national-level first-class protected animal, and sperm whale.

Up until now, the world of cetacean species in the South China Sea still remain shrouded in mystery for scientists across the world. Whether the northern part of the South China Sea is a habitat for sperm whales and other deep diving whales is also a puzzle to be solved.

Sperm whale. /VCG Photo

Sperm whale. /VCG Photo

"Sperm whales and beaked whales are very mysterious animals. Sperm whales are called the "Diving King" of the animal world, for both its duration of time in diving and depth of diving. It stays under water for most of time and only surface every 30 to 40 minutes. Their surface time is also very short, something like one to two minutes, once you miss it, they will soon be back into the water," said Li Songhai, researcher with the Institute of Deep-sea Science and Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Pairs of mother and baby cetaceans were found in groups of sperm whales and beaked whales in the northern part of the South China Sea. Given that such animals have a relative small activity zone and remain stationary in certain areas, the findings indicate that there are possibly groups of sperm whales and beaked whales settling in the northern part of the South China Sea.

The findings have filled gaps in the research of cetacean animals, particularly deep-diving whales, in the South China Sea.

(Cover image via VCG)

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