Mysterious New Whale Species Discovered in Alaska
Scientists say a dead whale on a desolate beach and a skeleton hanging in a high school gym are a new species. Yet experts have never seen one alive.
Like many good mysteries, this one started with a corpse, but the body in question was 24 feet (7.3 meters) long.
The remains floated ashore in June of 2014, in the Pribilof Islands community of St. George, a tiny oasis of rock and grass in the middle of Alaska's Bering Sea. A young biology teacher spotted the carcass half-buried in sand on a desolate windswept beach. He alerted a former fur seal researcher who presumed, at first, that she knew what they'd found: a Baird's beaked whale, a large, gray, deep-diving creature that occasionally washes in dead with the tide.
But a closer examination later showed that the flesh was too dark, the dorsal fin too big and floppy. The animal was