Researchers have discovered a new blue whale species, according to a paper recently published in Endangered Species Research.
The researchers behind the paper recorded a novel blue whale song and verified it in the western Indian Ocean. The song was heard from the Arabian Sea coast to the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean and even as far as Madagascar.
Blue whales are the largest mammals ever known on the face of the Earth. They inhabit all oceans (except the Arctic) and various unique species show up in different regions. Each species of blue whale is identified by its unique song.
Lead researcher and co-author of the study Dr. Salvatore Cerchio first recorded the sound in 2017 while researching Omura’s whales. Dr. Cerichio, who is also the Director of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund’s cetacean program, has been leading research into the new species since then.
“It was quite remarkable,” said Cerchio, “to find a whale song in your data that was completely unique, never before reported, and recognize it as a blue whale.” Given that researchers have extensively studied whale sounds, this finding was a big deal in scientific circles. “With all that work on blue whale songs, to think there was a population out there that no one knew about, well, it kind of blows your mind,” Cerchio added.
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