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Scientists ‘highly confident’ they have found new species of beaked whale off coast of Mexico

Scientists say they are “highly confident” they have discovered a new species of whale off the western coast of Mexico.

Researchers have said the species of beaked whale, based on the evidence of photographs, video and sound recordings, is not known to man.

A team working with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society first sighted the creatures three weeks ago, 100 miles north of the San Benito Islands.

Environmental genetic samples collected at the time of the sighting are expected to confirm the whales to be a previously unknown species.

Professor Dr Jay Barlow, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said: “We saw something new.

“Something that was not expected in this area, something that doesn’t match, either visually or acoustically, anything that is known to exist.

“It just sends chills up and down my spine when I think that we might have accomplished what most people would say was truly impossible – finding a large mammal that exists on this earth that is totally unknown to science.”

There are currently 23 known species of beaked whales, but they are rarely seen because the accomplished divers spend their lives in deep waters.

They can dive 2,000 metres (6,562ft) below the ocean’s surface.

They emit distinct acoustic echolocation signals under the water that are unique to each species.

When, in 2018, scientists heard a signal unlike any previously recorded, they decided it was a Perrin’s whale, another species of beaked whale.

The mystery signals were first heard off the coast of California and then again north of the San Benito Islands.

Last month, a team of researchers on board a Sea Shepherd vessel, called Martin Sheen, observed three beaked whales swimming in nearby waters.

Peter Hammarstedt, director of campaigns for Sea Shepherd, said: “The discovery of a new species of beaked whale proves how much mystery there is left to discover in the oceans that our captains, crews, and research partners fight to defend.”

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