Scientists were searching for a rare whale off the western coast of Mexico have found something even more exciting: an entirely new species.
The search started when researchers recorded a unique sound underwater. They had never heard the sound before, and wanted to trace it back to its source.
The chatty marine mammals turned out to be beaked whales. A team of scientists working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society discovered three of the whales near the San Benito Islands, about 300 miles from the US coastline, CNN reports.
The next step is to profile the mammals’ genetic material to determine if they are, in fact, a new species. Researchers Gustavo Cárdenas Hinojosa, Jay Barlow and Elizabeth Henderson are “highly confident” it is.
“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,” Barlow said.
“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.”
The call of the beaked whale had never been recorded before this project, and their physiology is unlike any other whale.
“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,” said Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd.
Learn more in the video below.
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