New Species of Beaked Whale Discovered

A group of scientists on board a vessel spotted three beaked whales near the west coast of Baja California, Mexico.

Working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the scientists thought that they have found the endangered species; Perrin’s beaked whale or Mesoplodon Perrini. Perrin’s beaked whales have never been sighted alive and are only known for carcasses and  distinguishing underwater sound.

Difference of the whales

The team was disappointed after realizing that the whales differ visually from the Perrin’s after closely looking at the characteristics.

With different body shapes and distinct color patterns, the team realized that the whales could be a new species of beaked whale.

The beaked whale researchers aboard RV Martin Sheen of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society put in their acoustic recorder when the whales surfaced near their ship.

Photographs, video recordings, and environmental genetic sampling were also done to be used in the hopes to identify the new species or confirming if indeed a new species existed.

Momentarily, the researchers are also working on a scientific paper to describe and report the physical and acoustic attributes of the three whales.

What was supposed to be a tour in search of Perrin’s beaked whales turned out to be a rare and interesting opportunity to discover a new form of a beaked whale?

Perrin’s beaked whales may be elusive but scientists and researchers found something new, something that is not known to exist in the area.

Elizabeth Henderson, a bioacoustic scientist with the U.S. Navy said that it is “frustrating to not have all the data they need, but is excited to have the opportunity to gather it.” Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a researcher connected to Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Areas also commented that “this has been an interesting year for beaked whale sighting and that the waters off the coast of California are important beaked whale areas.”

Funding for a research trip

The United States Navy is funding the research trip as well as the return visit to the area where these whales were spotted while the Sea Shepherd will take care of the vessel and the crew.

The cross-boundary partnership is a major key in the research and conservation of these  marine mammals.

While whale researchers feel that they know everything, it is not impossible that there are still new species of beaked whales waiting to be discovered.

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