Reports of a new species of whale have surfaced! Scientists found and cataloged a newly found “sea monster!” This one is elusive and few if any have ever seen one alive. Just what cryptozoology lovers love to hear! Science investigates and comes to an interesting conclusion.
Over the last 50 years in areas around the Indian and Pacific oceans, seven strange animals beached themselves on remote tropical islands. These beasts belong to the family of beaked whales and are distantly related to the sperm whale. They have been named Mesoplodon hotaula. (In the photo above Wayne Thompson on the far right discovered this beached whale along with his wife Lisa in the Seychelles.)
These elusive creatures live in the deep oceans around the world, just beyond the edge of the continental shelf.
According to Dr. Merel Dalebout (visiting research fellow at University of New South Wales, Australia), “They are rarely seen at sea due to their elusive habits, long dive capacity and apparent low abundance for some species. Understandably, most people have never heard of them.” (Artist’s rendering of the newest beaked whale below.)
- Sri Lanka: Fifty years ago a female whale washed ashore on a remote beach.
- Ratmalana (near Colombo): Blue-grey beaked whale washed ashore on 1/26/63. It was 4.5 meters long (15 feet). At that point P.E.P. (Paulus) Deraniyagala noted it was a new species and named it Mesoplodon hotaula. The name means “pointed beak” in the local Singhala language.
- Others were subsequently found in the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati), Palmyra Atoll of the Northern Line Islands (near Hawai’i), and the Maldives.
- The last to be found, in 2009 in the Seychelles, was found on Desroches Island by Wayne and Lisa Thompson of the Island Conservation Society of the Seychelles.
Since 1963, there has been some argument as to whether it was truly a new species or part of another closely related one, but recently Dr. Dalebout used DNA technology in combination with studying the bodies of the whales to determine that it was, in fact, a new species.
Dr. Dalebout (photo left) said, “A number of species in this group are known from only a handful of animals, and we are still finding new ones, so the situation with Deraniyagala’s whales is not that unusual. For example, the gingko-toothed beaked whale, first described in 1963, is only known from about 30 strandings and has never been seen alive at sea with any certainty. It’s always incredible to me to realize how little we really do know about life in the oceans. There’s so much out there to discover.”
No kidding Dr. Dalebout! We cryptozoology lovers know all about that – we’re always wondering what else could be out there – under the sea, on the land, and in the air!
To date there are 22 recognized species of beaked whales including Mesoplodon hotula.
Who knows what they’ll find next? Til the next time!