This marine mammal is the spade-toothed beaked whale (Mesoplodon traversii), world’s rarest whale seen for first time. Image credit: New Zealand Government
Considered one of the world’s rarest living mammals and rarest species of whale, the two spade-toothed beaked whales, a mother and calf, were stranded on a beach in New Zealand.
The mother was 17 feet (5.3 meters) long and the calf was 11 feet (3.5 m) long.
Rochelle Constantine, a marine biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said:
“This is the first time a spade-toothed beaked whale has been seen as a complete specimen, and we were lucky enough to find two of them.
It’s incredible to think that, until recently, such a large animal was concealed in the South Pacific Ocean and shows how little we know about ocean biodiversity.
This is a real New Zealand story – it’s all linked here, from the discovery of two of the bone fragments to the identification of the species and now the first sighting of the whales.
In New Zealand we have a very well established network whereby members of the public report stranded marine mammals to the Department of Conservation, which collects information and sends tissue samples to our laboratory at The University of Auckland.”
The spade-toothed whale (Mesoplodon traversii) is a very little known species of beaked whale. It was first named from a partial jaw found on Pitt Island (New Zealand) in 1872, reported and illustrated in 1873 by James Hector, and described the next year by John Edward Gray, who named it in honor of Henry Hammersley Travers, the collector.This was eventually lumped with the strap-toothed whale, starting as early as 1878 (Hector 1878, who in fact never considered the specimen to be specifically distinct). A calvaria found in the 1950s at White Island (also New Zealand) initially remained undescribed, but later was believed to be from a ginkgo-toothed beaked whale.
via The Telegraph