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Scientists Say They Have Found A Previously Unknown Species Of Whale

by : Emily Brown on : 10 Dec 2020 09:06
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/YouTube

Scientists believe they have spotted a previously unknown species of whale off the coast of Mexico in what could be a significant discovery among giant mammals. 

Beaked whale experts were working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society near the San Benito Islands, roughly 300 miles from the US border, on November 17 when they spotted three whales.

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The experts took photos and videos of the three whales and recorded their acoustic signals using an underwater microphone. After studying their data, the scientists are ‘highly confident’ they had stumbled upon a new species.

See footage of the whales below:

In a release about the findings shared on Tuesday, December 8, researcher Jay Barlow commented:

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We saw something new. Something that was not expected in this area, something that doesn’t match, either visually or acoustically, anything that is known to exist.

It just sends chills up and down my spine when I think that we might have accomplished what most people would say was truly impossible – finding a large mammal that exists on this earth that is totally unknown to science.

Scientists set out to find the whales after an unidentified acoustic signal was detected in the area, prompting the scientists to try and find out what kind of whales were making the noise.

The indication that this is a new species of whale comes from both its acoustic underwater signal and its physical characteristics. The team explained that each whale species emits a unique signal, and the sound made by these whales has never been recorded before.

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The whales’ teeth were also said to be unusually placed.

Barlow commented:

It is a huge animal, the weight of a Clydesdale horse. Imagine something that big in the terrestrial realm going undiscovered. But there’s a lot of mysteries in the sea.

Possible new species of whale foundSea Shepherd Conservation Society/YouTube
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Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd, noted that the discovery of a new species of beaked whale ‘proves how much mystery there is left to discover in the oceans that our captains, crews, and research partners fight to defend’.

Beaked whales are typically shy, but Barlow noted that the three whales ‘popped to the surface right next to the boat’. He described it as a ‘phenomenal encounter’, explaining, ‘It’s very rare to even see a beaked whale, and to find a friendly group of beaked whales, it’s even rarer.’

The researchers will now rely on genetic sampling to confirm whether they are correct with their theories about the new species. Barlow said they are awaiting the analysis of water samples that could hold skin cells for the whales, which could then be DNA tested.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Animals, Discovery, Mexico, Now, species, whales

Credits

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/YouTube
  1. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/YouTube

    Sea Shepherd Research Mission Discovers Possible New Whale Species