New Petrel Hiding in Plain Sight
Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2011
People have this notion that there’s nothing left to discover, other than a bunch of obscure insects. So it’s lovely when a big, spectacular new species turns up hiding in plain sight That’s what just happened within sight of crowded beaches in Chile, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Noted ornithologist Peter Harrison caught the new species on camera:
“This is the first new species of storm petrel discovered in 89 years, and the first new species of seabird discovered in 55 years –- and if we had won the lottery we could not feel better,” Harrison said in an interview
“We believe this is a relic population that was completely missed by Darwin himself, who sailed along that very coast a century ago,” Harrison said.
“And guess what? There are thousands of them in that area, which is plied by cruise ships, cargo vessels and fishing boats, all within sight of crowded beaches.”
Researchers at the University of Chile in Santiago are analyzing collected blood samples and feathers to learn more about the birds, where they breed and if they migrate to wintering grounds elsewhere.
“Not this time,” he said. “This bird has been under everyone’s noses in a popular area for decades.”