A ‘uniquely American whale’: new species discovered off southern US coast

Rice’s whales already considered endangered by the US with a population estimated at fewer than 100

Genetic analysis and a close examination of the skulls from a group of baleen whales in the north-eastern Gulf of Mexico have revealed that they are a new species.

“I was surprised that there could be an unrecognized species of whale out there, especially in our backyard,” says Lynsey Wilcox, a geneticist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who helped uncover the new species. “I never imagined I would be describing a new species in my career, so it is a very exciting discovery.”

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