Conservationists and researchers have been trying to save several whale species that are facing threat of extinction. The World Wildlife Fund has also added several threatened species to its endangered list, in an effort to save these warm-blooded mammals from being extinct. Recently, while looking for such marine creatures off the coast of Mexico, marine scientists came across what they believe to be a new species of beaked whale.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the marine researchers did not realize at first what they found after encountering a group of whales in November. Later, they understood that while sailing with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, they noticed a new type of beaked whale, a species that is smaller than other whales and up to five meters long with dolphin-like snouts.
After the encounter, just off the remote Mexican San Benito islands, the researchers found that the ocean creatures in the photographs they had captured had slightly different teeth placement. The scientists also noticed that their underwater recordings were also quite unique.
Dr. Jay Barlow, a senior fisheries scientist at the NOAA, became sure that they were not Perrin's beaked whales, which they have been looking for, but a completely new species. "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," he said.
Remarkable and Wonderful Discovery
Andrew Read, a marine biologist, said the scientists were searching for a very rare whale—Perrin's beaked whales that are so difficult to locate that they have only been observed when dead specimens show up on beaches. The fact that they accidentally found something completely different "is remarkable and wonderful, and just the joy of doing science," he added.
The team of marine researchers who found the new whale took samples from the water in the area where they first spotted the new species with the hope to get an environmental DNA sample from their sloughed skin cells, as genetic testing is required to get a conclusive answer.
After all the analysis, if confirmed that the new marine species would bring the total number of known beaker whales to 24. According to the NOAA scientist, Barlow it is a huge animal and "imagine something that big in the terrestrial realm going undiscovered. But there's a lot of mysteries in the sea". However, to know more about the species, researchers are planning a new trip in 2021.
Peter Hammarstedt, Director of Campaigns for Sea Shepherd, said 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".