A population of humpback whales in the Arabian Sea may have been isolated for 70,000 years, according to a study.
The unusual non-migratory group of humpback whales is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Some experts put the numbers of these Arabian Sea whales at less than 100.
Scientists have limited data on the difficult-to-study whales including the relationship to other humpback whale populations.
The authors analysed DNA from nearly 70 Arabian Sea humpback whale tissue samples and compared them to populations in the Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific.
The results show the Arabian Sea humpback whale population is highly distinct from cousins in the Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific.
Gene flow and divergence estimates suggest the population originated from the Southern Indian Ocean but indicate that it has been isolated for about 70,000 years.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE by Cristina Pomilla, Ana Rita Amaral, Howard Rosenbaum, and Tim Collins of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and colleagues.
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