When a trio of beaked whales surfaced off Mexico’s Pacific coast, researchers thought they’d found the elusive Perrin’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon perrini), an endangered species that’s never been officially sighted alive. But upon closer inspection, the researchers realized they may have stumbled upon something even rarer — a new species of beaked whale altogether. On November 17, the 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, and also dropped a specialized microphone underwater to record the animals’ acoustic signals. Two beaked whales swimming by the Sea Shepherd vessel. Image by Sea Shepherd / CONANP. “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.” Beaked whales communicate via echolocation clicks above the frequency of human hearing. But when Henderson and her colleagues analyzed the acoustical data, they found that these whales’ clicks were slightly different from those produced by…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer