Scientists Spot Earth's Rarest Whale for 1st Time
2 spade-toothed beaked whales beach selves in New Zealand
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Nov 6, 2012 7:03 AM CST
Updated Nov 10, 2012 12:50 PM CST
In this Dec. 31, 2010 photo provided by New Zealand Department of Conservation, a dead rare female spade-toothed beaked whale on Opape Beach, in New Zealand.   (AP Photo/ New Zealand Department of Conservation)

(Newser) – Scientists have come face-to-face with the rarest whale on the planet. Two spade-toothed beaked whales beached themselves in New Zealand in 2010, and a new paper describes researchers' identification and analysis of the creatures. "Up until now, all we have known about the spade-toothed beaked whale was from three partial skulls collected from New Zealand and Chile over a 140-year period. It is remarkable that we know almost nothing about such a large mammal," says a researcher.

"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." They were a 17-foot-long mother and 11-foot-long calf, LiveScience reports. Initially, scientists had thought they were Gray's beaked whales, a far more common species. "We ran the samples a few times to make sure before we told everyone," adds the researcher. So why are they so hard to find? "It may be that they are simply an offshore species that lives and dies in the deep ocean waters and only rarely wash(es) ashore," she says.

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Oct 30, 2013 1:25 AM CDT
Feb 5, 2013 11:51 PM CST
Sign the petition to "Take strong action to stop the japanese from killing whales in the Southern Ocean Antarctic Whale Sanctuary". It can be found at: The United States asserts that it resolutely opposes whale hunting by Japan in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission and former U.S. Vice-President Gore, but has so far done little to actually bring a halt to the practice. NOW we can join together and demand it...
Nov 11, 2012 6:22 PM CST
" . . . we were lucky enough to find two of them." But, not too lucky for the two dead whales.