AStrange noises recorded in the depths of the Pacific Ocean near Mexico’s San Benito Islands in 2018 may belong to a species of beaked whale that has not previously been documented, according to a team of scientists working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society .
“We saw something new. Something that wasn’t expected in this area, something that doesn’t match visually or acoustically with something known to exist, “said Jay Barlow, senior scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was on the team, who discovered the whales, a Sea Shepherd statement said on December 8th.
Beaked whales generate loud echolocation clicks for navigation and foraging, but the clicks the team heard had an unusual acoustic profile: they peaked at a different frequency and had a significant upswing, Elizabeth Henderson, a bioacoustic scientist with the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific at Pacific and another scientist on the team The scientist.
Henderson, Barlow, and their colleagues went on a cruise on November 17 to see if the 2018 sounds were related to the elusive Perrin beaked whale (Mesoplodon perrini), which was first described in 2002 and was only found stranded and dead on the coast. Not only did the researchers find the creatures that were making the noise, but they stumbled upon three of them, all alive.
The whales had different physical characteristics than the Perrin beaked whale. For one thing, the whale’s teeth were farther back in their mouths, they had a darker band of color from their eyes to the top of their head and a slight streak from their stomachs to the middle of their bodies.
“The fact that they were looking for a very rare whale and happened to find something completely different is remarkable and wonderful and just the joy of doing science,” said Andrew Read, a marine biologist at Duke University who was not involved with the Sighting told Reuters. “That’s what we all live for.”
Based on her observations, Henderson says that it appears these whales are among the Mesoplodon Genus and may be closely related to the Perrin and Blainville beaked whales. The researchers tried to collect skin cell samples from the surrounding water to analyze the whales’ DNA, which would confirm whether the whales are indeed a novel species, she says.
“That’s pretty important,” says Henderson The scientist. “Most of the other new whale species described over the past 20 years have been whales that were known to exist and have been seen. However, new evidence has emerged that has made a decision that separated them from where they were already classified. “In this case, the whales don’t even seem to have been observed by scientists.
There are currently 23 known beaked whale species and Barlow is “cautiously optimistic” that there will be 24 soon. “It’s a huge animal, the weight of a Clydesdale horse. Imagine something this big in the terrestrial realm that goes undetected, ”says Barlow Reuters.