Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Meet the World’s Newest—and Most Endangered—Whale

By Taylor Hill | Takepart.comOctober 6, 2014 6:41 PM

A genetically distinct group of whales—possibly an entirely new species—has been discovered off the coast of Florida’s Panhandle region.

That’s the good news. The bad news is they could be the most endangered whales in the world.

Scientists discovered the genetically unique set of about 50 whales during recent research in the Gulf of Mexico. The whales, which are members the Bryde’s (pronounced “broodus”) family, lives year-round in the Gulf. The whales reside in an underwater canyon near Florida’s west coast—an area highly susceptible to offshore oil spills.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has petitioned the U.S. government list the whale as endangered, citing the whales’ tiny population and vulnerability.

“Clearly the whales are in need of special protection, and not simply for their small numbers,” wrote NRDC policy analyst Michael Jasny in a blog post. “The massive industrialization of the northern Gulf threatens them six ways to Sunday.”

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