Ask any diver what is on their bucket list of things to see underwater, and…
Whales are truly magnificent creatures, and while you may mentally associate whales with the deep open ocean or seas in the colder regions of the plant, you will be surprised to know that Thailand has more than its fair share of whales and dolphins. 22 species of whales and dolphins are estimated to live in Thailand. The largest is the Fin whale which measures up to an impressive 27 meters in length. Other species found in Thai waters include the Killer whale, and multiple species of dolphins. Although plenty of different species can be encountered in Thai waters, some are incredibly rare, however there is one whale species that can be encountered regularly, the Bryde whale.
Ref: Department of Marine and Coastal Resources
NB: Whale Sharks are not whales, they are fishes, find more at: Whale Sharks Thailand
The Bryde whale is actually a name given to 2 species of whales. The common Bryde whale, named after Johan Bryde, is the larger of the two species, and is found around the world in temperate and tropical waters. The Eden whale is a smaller form of the Bryde whale, that gets its name from Sir Ashley Eden. Although small by whale standards, it is nevertheless a large marine creature and measures around 11-12 meters on average. It is the Eden form of the Bryde whale that can be found in Thai waters. Eden whales mainly inhabit the Indo-Pacific regions and can be found all around the coast of southeast Asia.
The Bryde whale is a baleen whale and belongs to the same type of whales as the Humpback and the Blue whale. The Bryde whale has two blow holes for breathing with a splash guard at the front of the most forward hole. Like other baleen whales, they have no teeth, but instead have two rows of baleen plates. These comb-like structures are used as filters when feeding, catching prey while allowing excess water to flow through them and out of the whale’s mouth.
For whales, they have a very wide and varied diet; Bryde whales have been known to feed on a variety of fish, cephalopods, and planktonic crustaceans. The diet of Bryde whales will vary depending on their location around the world. Those present off the coast of Japan tend to feed on anchovies, while those present off the coast of California tend to feed on red herring. Those found in the Indian ocean including around Thailand tend to feed on shrimp and krill.
Find more info about whales at: WWF
The whales and calves can be regularly sighted in the Gulf of Thailand. Generally, it is estimated that females are pregnant for 12 months, and new-born calves are born around 3.4 to 4.0 metres long. A new-born calf weighs in at a whopping 1,000 kg. The birth of the calf is certainly not the end of the story. Bryde whales are very attentive mothers and will care and nurse their calves for a period of 6 to 12 months.
Currently there is insufficient data to determine the exact status of Bryde whales, however they are listed in appendix I of CITES which prohibits international trade of their products.
The species is also covered by various international treaties designed to protect its habitat and environment. It is also a protected species in the United States. Historically the Bryde whale was not targeted by commercial whalers, although local fishermen in the Philippines and Indonesia have been known to target them. Luckily, due to the small scale of their operations, Indonesian and Filipino whalers have not had a drastic impact on the total numbers of the population. When it comes to accidental damage they do suffer occasionally from ship strikes, but they escape the far more damaging fate of being caught as bycatch; so far, no Bryde whales have been reported to be taken during commercial fishing.