Ramari's beaked whale is the latest species of whale or dolphin to be discovered
When the body of a pregnant beaked whale turned up on the coast of New Zealand in 2011, it was first thought to be a True's beaked whale. However, a few years later scientists were able to identify the whale as a completely new species.
IUCN conservation status: Data Deficient
What do we know about Ramari's beaked whale?
The beaked whale that stranded in New Zealand was named Nihongore by the local tribe of Ngāti Māhaki and her skeleton preserved at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington with the help of Ramari Stewart, a local Māori whale expert who noticed something different about Nihongore.
Working together with Dr. Emma Carroll from the University of Auckland, they worked to compare other samples of True’s beaked whales from both the Northern and Southern hemisphere and realized that the True’s beaked whales in the Southern Hemisphere had very different genetics and skull shapes – two key indicators that they were a different species.
In 2022, the species was added to the IUCN Red List. Very little is still known about Ramari's beaked whale but further investigation has revealed whales in Brazil, Tristan da Cunha, Mozambique, South Africa and Australia, suggesting it inhabits the warm temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere.
The only live sightings of Ramari's whale took place off Madagascar and possibly New South Wales in Australia.
Ramari's beaked whales need your help
The main threats...
- Noise – Beaked whales are vulnerable to naval sonar and seismic activity.
- Bycatch – there is concern that even low levels of bycatch could have unsustainable impacts.
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