New Species of Whale Discovered in Gulf of Mexico in Florida

Photo Courtesy of Miami Herald
Scientist discover a brand new baleen whale species named “Rice’s Whale” Balaenoptera ricei, with less than 100 specimens, confirmed from a deceased whale found back in 2019 in Florida Bay in The Everglades. Everglades National Park made the announcement of the new discovery. “At the time the whale was collected, scientists knew it looked like a Bryde’s-like whale but were not yet certain what species or subspecies it was. Knowing that it would be important to science, they made every effort to collect all the info they could from this intact specimen.” “We’re happy to announce today that this foresight has resulted in a major discovery — the deceased whale is a species that’s completely new to science and its proposed new name is Balaenoptera recei, or Rice’s whale.” “The paper’s authors named the new whale species after Dale W. Rice — a distinguished scientist, he was the first researcher to recognize that Bryde’s-like whales are present in the Gulf of Mexico.” The name still needs to be formally accepted by the Society for Marine Mammalogy Committee on Taxonomy, and then NOAA will update the name in the endangered species listing. Their body color is dark charcoal gray above and light pinkish underneath. It is distinguished from all other closely related whale species by differences in its skull and the DNA sequence found in its mitochondria. Its habitat is currently thought to be the NE Gulf of Mexico.

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