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Artist impression of Ramiri's beaked whale

New whale species found

A new whale species has been found in New Zealand. It is funny to think that ‘Ramuri’s’ beaked whale has remained undiscovered before now!  All beaked whales are shy and stay away from people and so it is very rare to see one.

Beaked whales typically live in deep water, a long way from land, they can hold their breath for a long time and spend most of the time deep diving. When they visit the surface to breathe they do so quickly and without any fuss – they are never at the surface for long and can easily be missed even by people searching for them at sea.

Ramuri’s whale’s story began ten years ago, when a pregnant beaked whale stranded on the coast of New Zealand. She was named Nihongore by the local Maori tribe and everybody thought she was a True’s beaked whale. Her skeleton was preserved at the local Museum with the help of Ramari Stewart, a local Māori whale expert who during her work noticed something different about Nihongore.

When she and other scientists compared Nihongore with other True’s beaked whales from around the world, they realised that True’s beaked whales found in the southern and northern hemisphere are actually quite different from one another, and that they are in fact two different species.

Ramuri’s beaked whales only live in the southern hemisphere and live in deep waters near New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

It is extremely rare to discover new whale species but even more rare to name them after a woman! “Ramari” means “rare event” in the Māori indigenous language of New Zealand.

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