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NOAA's Patricia Rosel examines Rice's whale type specimen at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Credit: NOAA

A whale that washed up in 2019 in the Everglades and was later buried at Fort De Soto in Pinellas County is actually a newly identified, ultra-rare species.

Why it matters: There are fewer than 100 of these critically endangered whales remaining.

What's new: Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found evidence that what was previously known as Bryde's whales are actually their own species — now branded Rice's whales.

  • The new name honors renowned American biologist Dale Rice, who was the first researcher to recognize that the whales were present in the Gulf of Mexico.

How they did it: Scientists long suspected that whales in the Gulf were different from other whales.

  • To be confident, they needed to examine the whale’s genetics and skull, a tricky task when they can weigh 30 tons and be 42 feet long.
  • The carcass buried at Fort De Soto was excavated and shipped to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History for study and confirmation.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

The Tampa Bay housing market is on fire

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In December, Tampa Bay-area homes flew off the market in about 10 days, and buyers paid top dollar, according to Florida Realtors' latest report.

The state of play: Historically low interest rates are driving demand. That, combined with low inventory, caused home prices to surge.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.