2020 was a busy year for scientists, with some 503 new animal species being discovered. Now it seems the New Year is following up right where 2020 left off as scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of the blue whale.
Each species of whale can be identified by its unique song, so scientists were especially excited when they recorded a novel whale song in the west Indian Ocean. As reported in the journal Endangered Species Research, the researchers indicated that although the whale song was completely unique, it did belong to a blue whale.
“It was quite remarkable to find a whale song in your data that was completely unique, never before reported, and recognize it as a blue whale,” said Dr. Salvatore Cerchio, Director of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund’s cetacean program. Cerchio said he first recorded the sound in 2017 while researching Omura’s whales. “With all that work on blue whale songs, to think there was a population out there that no one knew about until 2017, well, it kind of blows your mind.”
For Suaad Al Harthi, Executive Director of the Environment Society of Oman, the idea that there is a new species of a blue whale in the region where he is focused has suddenly changed the nature of his very work. His work has long been dedicated to saving the Arabian Sea Humpback, but now there’s the opportunity to look into an entirely new species.
“For 20 years we have focused work on the highly endangered Arabian Sea humpback whale, for which we believe only about 100 animals remain off the coast of Oman. Now, we are just beginning to learn more about another equally special, and likely equally endangered, population of a blue whale,” said Al Harthi. When more is known about this new species of blue whale, we will be sure to let you know.
Image Source: NEAQ