International team of researchers may have identified new species of beaked whale

International team of researchers may have identified new species of beaked whal

An international team of research has identified a new species of beaked whale. The discovery came after the team searched for samples of evidence from museums and remote Arctic islands that confirmed they did not matched to a different kind of beaked whales’ species.

Though new identifies species is not new to all, Japanese whalers have named this black whale species "karasu,” which is the Japanese word for raven. The whale is darker in color and about two-thirds the size of the more common Baird's beaked whale, but they are seldom seen because of them being scarce. The black whales are sometimes mistaken for dwarf form of Baird's beaked whale, but the new study claimed it could be new species.

Phillip Morin, a research molecular biologist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and lead author of the new study, to know exact identity of the black whale went on to search of additional genetic samples. He took help from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center's marine mammal tissue collection and found two samples represented a new species. One of the sample belonged to Alaska's Aleutian Islands in 2004.

Morin and his colleagues pursued more DNA samples from museums, research institutions and Japanese markets where whale meat is sold. The researchers found from a dead beaked whale on St. George Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, in 2014. They tried to match the samples with this dead whale, but no sample of any known beaked whale species matched it. So they arrived on the conclusion that the back whale might be a new species.

“The challenge in documenting the species was simply locating enough specimens to provide convincing evidence. Clearly this species is very rare, and reminds us how much we have to learn about the ocean and even some of its largest inhabitants”, said Morin.

According to a report in Herald Net by Rachel Feltman, "Now, scientists have confirmed that the animal represents a previously unknown species — and that several specimens, including a skeleton that hangs in the gymnasium of an Alaskan high school, share similar DNA."

These could be the remains of a small, rarely seen black whale known as karasu, or raven, among Japanese sailors. But experts have never gotten to examine one of these creatures in life, and they’ve never been considered a unique species. Those who did see the small whales usually lumped them in with the similar-looking Baird’s whales, assuming they were young or dwarfed individuals with unusual coloring.

“We don’t know how many there are, where they’re typically found, anything,” Phillip Morin, a molecular geneticist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center and lead author of a study on the new species published on Tuesday, told National Geographic. “But we’re going to start looking.”

A report published in Eurek Alert revealed, "Japanese whalers call the enigmatic black whales "karasu," the Japanese word for raven. The new species is darker in color and about two-thirds the size of the more common Baird's beaked whale, but so scarce that even whalers rarely see them."

"The challenge in documenting the species was simply locating enough specimens to provide convincing evidence," said Phillip Morin, a research molecular biologist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and lead author of the new study. "Clearly this species is very rare, and reminds us how much we have to learn about the ocean and even some of its largest inhabitants."

"The implication of a new species of beaked whale is that we need to reconsider management of both species to be sure they're sufficiently protected, considering how rare the new one appears to be," Hoyt said. "Discovering a new species of whale in 2016 is exciting but it also reveals how little we know and how much more work we have to do to truly understand these species."


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