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A New Species of Baleen Whale (Balaenoptera) from the Gulf of Mexico, with a Review of its Geographic Distribution.

January 25, 2021

New research provides a body of evidence supporting the existence of an undescribed species of baleen whale (Balaenoptera) from the Gulf of Mexico.

Bryde's‐like whales are a complex of medium‐sized baleen whales that occur in tropical waters of all three major ocean basins. Currently, a single species of Bryde's whale, Balaenoptera edeni Anderson, 1879, is recognized, with two subspecies, Eden's whale, B. edeni edeni and Bryde's whale, B. edeni brydei (Olsen, 1913), although some authors have recognized these as separate species. Recently, a new, evolutionarily divergent lineage of Bryde's‐like whale was identified based on genetic data and was found to be restricted primarily to the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOMx). Here, we provide the first morphological examination of a complete skull from these whales and identify diagnostic characters that distinguish it from the other medium‐sized baleen whale taxa. In addition, we have increased the number of genetic samples of these Bryde's‐like whales in the GOMx from 23 to 36 individuals, all of which matched the GOMx lineage. A review of Bryde's‐like whale records in the Caribbean and greater Atlantic supports an isolated distribution for this unique lineage, augmenting the genetic and morphological body of evidence supporting the existence of an undescribed species of Balaenoptera from the Gulf of Mexico.

Patricia E. Rosel, Lynsey A. Wilcox, Tadasu K. Yamada, and Keith D. Mullin. 2021. A new species of baleen whale (Balaenoptera) from the Gulf of Mexico, with a review of its geographic distribution. Marine Mammal Science. 37(2): 577-610. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12776    


Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on 02/08/2024