Spade-Toothed Beaked Whales
by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Science.
Photo: New Zealand Government

The good news is, they are not extinct. The bad news, two extremely rare Spade-toothed beaked whales, a mother and her calf, beached themselves and died in New Zealand.

Discovered in 1872, no one had ever seen this species alive. The only proof that they hadn’t gone extinct were two skulls. A partial skull found in New Zealand in the 1950′s and one in Chile in 1986. Hard to believe this is the first time an entire whale has been seen considering they are over 5 meters in length.

rare whale discovered in new zealand

The reason so little is known about these whales is that they are thought to live deep in the Pacific ocean and come up to breathe infrequently. Rochelle Constantine from the University of Auckland said, “It may be that they are simply an offshore species that lives and dies in the deep ocean waters and only rarely wash ashore. New Zealand is surrounded by massive oceans. There is a lot of marine life that remains unknown to us.”

The two whales actually came to shore in 2010, but they were mistaken for the more common Gray’s beaked whales. It was only after DNA analysis that their true identity was revealed. Perhaps this mother and son will teach scientists more information about the elusive Spade-toothed beaked whales. Otherwise, we consider the species lucky to not have to encounter humans regularly.

 

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rajatqb Rajat Banerjee

    doesn’t the author mean “Skulls”? “sculls” are a type of row boats.