New whale species found in the Bering Sea
A rare discovery of a new species of whale has been made in the Alaskan Bering Sea. This species lives in the Bering Sea, between Japan and Alaska. Scientists have not given it a name yet.
A dead whale was found on a shore in 2014. However, this was unlike anything anyone had seen before. For starters, it was 7.3 meters long. These remains were found specifically in the Pribilof Islands community of St. George in the Bering Sea.
At first sight, the animal was presumed to be a Baird´s beak whale. But this was dismissed as it was noticed that the skin was too dark and the fin was actually big and floppy. Besides this, the animal was too short for an adult but its teeth were yellow from age.
After taking DNA samples of the species and comparing to existing whales, scientists discovered that this animal is genetically not connected to the Northern Hemisphere's Baird's beaked whales and its closest know relatives, Arnoux's beaked whales.
"It's a really big deal," says Paul Wade, study co-author of NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory. "If you think about it, on land, discovery of new species of large mammals is exceptionally rare. It just doesn't happen very often. It's quite remarkable."