The small, non-migratory population of Arabian Sea humpback whales is currently classified as 'Endangered' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.

"Gene flow and divergence estimates suggest the population originated from the Southern Indian Ocean, but indicate that it has been isolated for approximately 70,000 years, which is unusual for a species that is typically highly migratory," the researchers said.

Scientists have limited data on the difficult-to-study population, including its relationship to other humpback whale populations.

But Cristina Pomilla and colleagues from Wildlife Conservation Society, along with researchers from American Museum of Natural History, and their colleagues analyzed tissue samples from nearly 70 Arabian Sea humpback.

They compared their genetic analysis with populations in the Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific.

The results showed that the Arabian Sea humpback whale population is highly distinct from Southern Hemisphere and North Pacific populations.

The authors concluded that the low genetic diversity and population abundance estimates, combined with anthropogenic threats, may raise concern for the populations' survival.

The study appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.

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