Rare whale species seen for the first time

It’s a bittersweet scientific discovery.

Two spade-toothed beaked whales were found on Opape Beach in northern New Zealand, where the mother and calf had stranded themselves and died.

A sad story, but researchers can’t help but look at the brighter side. This is the first time anyone has ever seen a spade-toothed beaked whale. They’re so mysterious that scientists aren’t even sure why they’re mysterious, though some hypothesize that the species spends its entire life in deep waters far from shore.

Until now, the only evidence biologists had that the species exists are three partial skulls found over the last 140 years in Chile and New Zealand. The spade-toothed beaked whale is so rare, the mother and baby were first misidentified as Gray’s beaked whales.

Unfortunately, beached whales are a common occurrence in New Zealand, which has the highest rates of stranding in the world and sees the most number of stranded whale species.

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