Other Animals

Petition: New Whale Species that Washed Ashore in Florida is Already Endangered

Scientists have identified a new species of whale—and they say it’s already endangered.

LiveScience reports that in January 2019, the body of a whale washed ashore in the Florida Everglades. Scientists initially thought the whale was a subspecies of the Bryde’s whale called Rice’s whale.

Bryde’s—pronounced “broodus”—is a baleen whale species in the same category as the and blue whale.

But new research has led scientists to conclude that the Rice’s whale is its own species. The journal Marine Mammal Science recently published their findings.


Two of the paper’s authors, NOAA Fisheries scientists Patricia Rosel and Lynsey Wilcox, completed the first genetic tests on Rice’s in 2008. But they began the research that would lead them to confirm the new species in the 1990s, collaborating with co-author Dr. Keith Mullin (Tadusa K. Yamada was also an author on the paper).

When the whale washed ashore in Florida, Rosel examined the skull, which revealed that the Rice’s whale skull differs significantly from that of the Bryde’s whale. According to LiveScience, the scientists also determined that Rice’s whales can weigh up to 60,000 pounds and reach 42 feet, making them heavier and shorter than Bryde’s whales (Bryde’s whales can weigh up to 55,000 pounds and can grow to be 50 feet).

Armed with both genetic data and evidence of significant morphological differences, the scientists could finally distinguish the Rice’s whale as its own species.

(1/2) #TBT — In January 2019, a deceased 38-foot Bryde’s-like whale was found in Florida Bay and brought into the…

Posted by Everglades National Park on Thursday, January 28, 2021

We have a new whale species to report!

Check out yesterday’s #TBT post on the deceased Bryde’s-like whale that was…

Posted by Everglades National Park on Friday, January 29, 2021

Already Endangered

In a statement, the said the new species is “critically endangered”.

The Rice’s whale was previously listed as an endangered subspecies. There are fewer than 100 Rice’s whales alive today.

Because Rice’s whales live in the Gulf of Mexico, they are “particularly vulnerable to oil spills, vessel strikes and energy exploration and production,” LiveScience reports.

Sign this petition to fight the extinction of whale species. Tell the to act to protect the North Atlantic right whale!

This article was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 12 February 2021. Lead Image Source: Sean Steininger/Shutterstock.


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