© Reuters. Researchers imagine they’ve discovered a beforehand unknown species of beaked whale in waters off Mexico’s western coast

By Cassandra Garrison

(Reuters) – Researchers imagine they’ve discovered a beforehand unknown species of beaked whale in waters off Mexico’s western coast. If confirmed, the brand new species would mark a major discovery amongst large mammals.

The workforce of researchers stumbled on three uncommon specimens whereas monitoring a unique, uncommon species of usually shy beaked whales on Nov. 17 close to Mexico’s distant San Benito Islands, about 300 miles south (500 km) of the U.S. border.

“These animals popped to the floor proper subsequent to the boat,” mentioned Jay Barlow, a marine mammal biologist on the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography in San Diego.

“It was only a phenomenal encounter. It’s totally uncommon to even see a beaked whale, and to discover a pleasant group of beaked whales, it is even rarer,” he mentioned.

Barlow and his colleagues on the journey, led by the non-profit Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, didn’t notice they had been seeing a possible new species till later when learning pictures they took of the animals. The whales’ tooth had been unusually positioned, Barlow mentioned.

Underwater recordings of the whales’ calls additionally advised they had been distinctive, he mentioned.

The scientists at the moment are awaiting the evaluation of water samples that might maintain pores and skin cells for potential DNA testing to substantiate whether or not the whales are a brand new species, Barlow mentioned

‘MYSTERIES IN THE SEA’

Beaked whales – named for his or her pointy, dolphin-like snouts – are discovered principally in distant waters, comparable to off the San Benito Islands.

Although as much as 5 meters (16.4 toes) lengthy, they are often arduous for scientists to watch as they have an inclination to swim and feed principally at depths of round 914 meters (3,000 toes), surfacing solely sometimes for air. At such depths, the animals have a greater likelihood of avoiding their important predator, killer whales.

“The truth that they had been in search of a really uncommon whale, and that they occur to search out one thing utterly totally different, is exceptional and fantastic, and simply the enjoyment of doing science,” mentioned Andrew Learn, a marine biologist at Duke College. “That is what all of us dwell for.”

Learn mentioned that whereas figuring out a brand new species is a uncommon occasion, the findings described by Barlow’s workforce appear in step with a novel discovery. DNA testing could be wanted to offer a conclusive reply, he mentioned.

Barlow was “cautiously optimistic” in regards to the likelihood of confirming the newly encountered animals as a brand new species. That may deliver the variety of recognized beaked whale species to 24.

“It’s a big animal, the burden of a Clydesdale horse. Think about one thing that huge within the terrestrial realm going undiscovered,” he mentioned.

“However there’s lots of mysteries within the sea.”

(This story corrects 3,000 meters to three,000 toes in paragraph 9)

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