EVERGLADES CITY, Florida (WBBH) — A new species of Baleen Whale has been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) responded to a report of a stranded whale in the Everglades National Park in January of 2019. The dead male whale was recorded to be 38 feet and 23,000 pounds.
A team of biologists worked through the night to collect information on the whale’s genetics and life history. They used the data to determine the cause of death and determined it was plastic ingestion, according to FWC.
Initially, biologists identified the whale as a Bryde’s whale. The animal’s remains were sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
From this specimen, NOAA scientists were able to determine that the animal was an entirely new species of whale living in the Gulf of Mexico.
The new species was named Rice’s whale, after the American biologist, Dale Rice.
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