Is there a new whale in town?3 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
More than 80% of the ocean is unexplored. And in the depths of the ocean, anywhere from 10 thousand to 10 million species lie undiscovered.
The ocean is the best setting for a mystery novel!
But every now and then, the possibility of a new discovery comes along and changes what we know of the world.
This is what happened with a group of scientists on November 17.
Researchers have spotted what could be a new species of beaked whales, off Mexico’s western coast. If confirmed, this would be a big discovery in giant mammals!
Know more about the existing beaked whales:
As the name suggests, beaked whales are known for their pointy dolphin-like long snouts. These whales are shy, and are not easy to spot at all. So even the sight of a beaked whale, from the recorded pool of 23 species, is a moment to behold! They live in deep-sea habitat, which means that they hardly come to the surface.
They only have one or two pairs of teeth in the lower jaw.
They hate noise as it can have damaging effects on their health.
This explains why they are hardly ever spotted by vessels or near the surface.
On November 17, a team of researchers was out looking for the coy beaked whales in the waters near Mexico’s remote San Benito Islands. That’s when they came across three specimens that they had never seen before!
The scientists had no idea they were looking at potentially new species when the three whales made their appearance. It was only later while looking at pictures from the expedition of these surprise guests that the scientists found some unique elements—
1. The teeth were differently placed as compared to other beaked whales.
2. The recording of their underwater calls was also unique!
3. Also, they were a lot friendlier than the other species! They popped to the surface right next to the scientists’ boat.
The sea, itself, holds the truth of this discovery. Scientists are waiting for results from the collected water sample that could have the presence of the skin cells of this (possibly) new species. These skin cells will help in DNA testing. The results of the test will prove if what the scientists saw was a new species or not.
A new discovery always brings a smile to one’s face! The thought that our world is a happy home to so many amazing species is humbling. This excitement is also a reminder for us to ensure that we take care of the species that we know about, who are in danger of extinction. Do you remember the right whale, the popa langur, the swimming camels of India, and the platypuses in Australia?
The crossword below will serve as a good reminder!
Image sourced from Simon Ager.