As rare as a ‘unicorn’ — a new horse-sized species of the beaked whale spotted off the coast of Mexico
Elizabeth Henderson/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
- Researchers may have spotted a
new speciesof beaked whalein the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Mexico.
- The whales do not match any previously known 23 species of beaked whales, visually or acoustically, according to the team.
- What makes this sighting even rarer is that the whales came up to swim right next to the boat even though beaked whales are known for staying deep underwater to avoid their primary predator — the killer whale.
AdvertisementResearchers from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society were on the lookout for the elusive Perin’s beaked whale when they came across something entirely different. It was still a beaked whale — just one that neither looks nor sounds like the 23 species that already exist.
“This is like searching for the last Mastodon [an exist species of elephants akin to woolly mammals] that still somehow in a valley somewhere on this planet and finding a
According to him, the new species of beaked whale is as big as a Clydesdale horse — a Scottish breed of stallions known for its size and strength.
The rarest of sightings
Two weeks into the expedition off the coast of Baja, in the Pacific Ocean, the crew saw three whales come right up to the board during one of the ‘drops’. A drop is when acoustic recording packages are released into the ocean to drift along with currents for days to weeks to capture any underwater sounds.
This was surprising because beaked whales generally remain deep underwater to avoid their main predator, killer whales. They can dive up to 2,000 metres below the ocean’s surface, and that’s where they spend most of their lives aside from coming up for air every once in a while.
"These animals popped to the surface right next to the boat," said Barlow.
This may be the first sighting of these new species of beaked whales, but it may not be the first time that they’ve been heard. Back in 2018, scientists heard a signal unlike any previously recorded. At the time, they concluded that these mystery signals heard off the coast of California were from a Perrin's whale, but if the new discovery holds true — it may change the status quo of those recordings.
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