Sunday, June 17, 2012

Very Rare Shepherd’s Beaked Whales Sighted, First Video Ever!

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Shepherd’s Beaked Whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi)

Very Rare Shepherd’s Beaked Whales Sighted, First Video Ever! he Australian Antarctic Division team was tracking blue whales off the coast of Victoria state last month when they spotted the reclusive mammals, which are so rarely seen that no population estimates of the species exist. Voyage leader Michael Double said the black and cream-coloured mammals with prominent dolphin-like beaks had been spotted in the wild only a handful of times through history.

According to the Australian environment department, there have only been two previous confirmed sightings - a lone individual in New Zealand and a group of three in Western Australia. They have never been filmed live before.

"These animals are practically entirely known from stranded dead whales, and there haven't been many of them," Double told AFP, calling the footage "unique". "They are an offshore animal, occupying deep water, and when they surface it is only for a very short period of time."

Double said what was remarkable about the sighting was that the whale was previously thought to be a solitary creature, yet was in a pod of 10 to 12. "To find them in a pod is very exciting and will change the guide books. Our two whale experts will now carefully study the footage to work out the whale sizes and so on and prepare a scientific paper." The Shepherd's beaked whale, also known as the Tasman beaked whale, was discovered in 1937 but little is known about them.

Rare Whales Spotted in Bass Strait Scientists hope the sighting of a pod of rare Shepherd's beaked whales will lead to new research into the species.

 Source: and AFP

Shepherd’s Beaked Whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi)
Status: Data Deficient
Shepherd's beaked whales are primarily known from a few dozen strandings, all south of 30°S, around New Zealand, southern Australia, southern South America, the Juan Fernandez Islands, and Tristan de Cunha (Mead 1989).

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Seeking Alpha