Wake up, babe! New whale just dropped!!
A pregnant female whale washed up on shore of New Zealand’s Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa on the south island back in 2011. The local tribe who found her, known as the Ngāti Māhaki, named her Nihongore and had her bones sent to Te Papa Tongarewa Museum. It was believed to be the elusive True’s beak whale, but Ramari Steward, a Maori Tohunga Tohorā (whale expert), knew this whale was different. Ramari Stewart and Dr Emma Carroll from the University of Auckland worked together on solving the mystery of this whale.
Upon closer examination, scientists realized that this was not a True’s beaked whale. Genetic analysis and the shape of the skull was different, and it is estimated that this new species broke off from the True’s beaked whale about half a million years ago. Not much is known yet about this whale, but beaked whales are deep diving mammals (probably why they weren’t spotted right away). To honor the scientist who worked on this project, the whale was named Ramari’s whale.
This discovery is significant to the Maori who have a very special connection to the Moana (sea) and to whales. Whales are considered sacred and the Maori were a seafaring people, so they naturally have acquired a decent amount of knowledge about whales. Unfortunately indigenous knowledge wasn’t taken into account in scientific studies, and was only just being considered in the scientific community. Hopefully this discover can lead to more collaboration with indigenous tribes.
Even though whales are important to the Maori, this is the first whale to have a Maori name. And the name Ramari itself means ‘rare event’, which feels appropriate. It’s an incredible honor for WoC in science, in particular indigenous women.
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A collection of my aesthetic moodboards from various series:
“The Ghost on the Shore” by Lord Huron
“At Sea” by Lord Huron
“Amhrán na Farraige (Song of the Sea)”
“When Will I See You Again” by Lord Huron
“Into the Sun” by Lord Huron
“Loreley” by Blackmore’s Night
Endless Weekend (Bath and Body Works)
“Tighinn air a' Mhuir Tha Fear a Phòsas Mi”
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Did you know?
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary covers an area comparable to...
–Over one and half times larger than the entire Puget Sound.
–Almost two and a half times larger than Olympic National Park.
–The states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
That's 3,188 square miles of beautiful marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula coastline!
Learn how you can get out and explore what the sanctuary has to offer: https://olympiccoast.noaa.gov/visitor/.
(Photo: Jenny Waddell/NOAA. Image description: View through trees of Cape Flattery, rocky waters near tree lined cliffs.)
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