In 2010, two beaked whales beached themselves on the Opape Beach in New Zealand. At first scientists thought the whales were Gray’s beaked whales, which is a more common species in that area. But after extensive DNA testing, they were able to reveal that the two whales were actually the extremely rare spade-toothed beaked whales. They revealed their findings in the November issue of Current Biology.
One was a baby, and the larger, its mother. Prior to their beaching, all scientists knew of this rare animal came from three partial skulls found in New Zealand and Chile. So, while sad the animals died, they were nonetheless pleased to have bodies to study and test.
The mother whale measured 17 feet (5.3 meters) in length. Her baby, a male, measured 11 feet (3.5 meters). It is unknown why they beached themselves. New Zealand’s beaches experience a lot of beaching by all types of whales and scientists are struggling to figure out why.
Marine biologist Rochelle Constantine, who works at the University of Auckland, said, “ Up until now, all we have known about the spade-toothed beaked whales was from three partial skulls collected from New Zealand and Chile over 140 year period. It is remarkable that we know almost nothing about such a large mammal. This is the first time this species has ever been seen as a complete specimen, and we were lucky enough to find two of them.”
When questioned how and why this species of whale remains so elusive, Constantine said, “It may be that they are simply an offshore species that lives and dies in the deep ocean waters and only rarely washes ashore.” She added, “New Zealand is surrounded by massive oceans. There is a lot of marine life that remains unknown to us.”
No kidding, CryptoVille fans! In several previous discussions we discussed just how deep and how unexplored those waters are. To reiterate, prior to finding these spade-toothed beaked whale bodies, science only had 3 partial skulls to prove they ever existed. Science didn’t think they existed today. And yet here they are, washing up on shore (unfortunately) proving once again that science doesn’t have all the answers.
I find it thrilling. Talk about a voyage of discovery! What other wonders do those oceans hold?
And speaking of partial skulls that prove an animal existed long ago, but which science doesn’t believe exists today: Gigantopithecus. I believe that animal is the predecessor of the Bigfoot family in all its variations around the world.
It’s just a matter of time, friends. One day we’ll have the proof that the Bigfoot do in fact exist, and who knows how many other cryptids?
In the meantime, keep your eyes open and your cameras charged and handy!
Til the next time!