On Nov. 17, a research team was sailing aboard the Martin Sheen, a vessel operated by conservation group Sea Shepherd, when they spotted the three beaked whales about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Mexico’s San Benito Islands. They managed to capture photos and video recordings of the animals which is believed to be a new species of beaked whale altogether.
“The whales, amazingly, surfaced four or five times really close to the ship,” Elizabeth Henderson, a bioacoustics scientist at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific’s (NIWC PAC) whale acoustics reconnaissance program and one of the researchers on the expedition, told Mongabay in an interview. “They actually seemed to be circling us. We put in one of our acoustic recorders, and they kind of checked that out. For beaked whales, it was incredible, because beaked whales are typically so elusive when it comes to ships.”
Each whale species emits a unique acoustic signal underwater and this sound has never been recorded before, plus initial analysis of the whales’ physical characteristics suggests this is a new species, according to the team.