Scientists have discovered an entirely new population of pygmy blue whales in the Indian Ocean, which have managed to evade detection for decades despite their enormous size. Researchers uncovered the secretive cetaceans by analyzing acoustic data collected by an underwater nuclear bomb detection array, which revealed a unique song scientists had never heard before. The new population of pygmy blue whales ( Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda ) — a smaller subspecies of blue whale that reaches a maximum length of 79 feet (24 meters) — is now called the Chagos population, after a group of islands in the Indian Ocean near the group’s lair. Related: Whale album: Giants of the deep “We are still discovering missing populations of the largest animal that has ever lived,” senior author Tracey Rogers, a marine ecologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, told Live Science. “It’s a testament to the difficulty of studying life in the ocean.” Bomb detectors “Blue whales are generally hard to find,” lead author Emmanuelle Leroy, a postdoctoral fellow at UNSW, told Live Science. “They were brought to the edge of extinction by industrial whaling and they are recovering very slowly.” Currently, about 5,000 to 10,000 blue… Read full this story
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