NewsSarasota, Manatee County


MOTE Scientists help with discovery of new whale species in Gulf of Mexico

new whale species
Posted at 9:48 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 21:48:30-05

A brand new species of whale was just discovered in the Gulf of Mexico but it's already critically endangered.

The remains of a whale that washed up in the everglades in 2019 helped researchers discover the new species, now called Rice’s whale.

At first, it was assumed to be a Bryde's whale, but after studying the bones MOTE Marine scientists, FWC and NOAA worked together to discover the brand new species.

Scientists believe there are less than 40 Rice’s whales left.

"It's a super important find but it's also disheartening to know that they’re already this much endangered," said Gretchen Lovewell, program manager for stranding investigations at MOTE.

Scientists say they believe the whale died from a small piece of plastic lodged in its stomach.

Lovewell says it's a reminder of why it's critical for us to keep our oceans clean.