Astonishing new footage has just emerged of one of the most elusive creatures in the sea, and it has scientists excited.
A Smithsonian scientist by the name of Frederick William was the first to identify the True’s beaked whale, or Mesoplodon mirus, back in 1913. Ever since then, the incredibly rare species has occasionally washed up on beaches in the North Atlantic and South Pacific, but no one had ever caught one of them on video, until now. That video has been embedded below this post.
This mysterious whale is thought to live in the North Atlantic, but there are so few live sightings on record that scientists don’t know much about it. They are usually seen in deep water, but fairly near the coast of the Azores and the Canary Islands, according to a paper accompanying the video that was published in the journal PeerJ.
In the video, three True’s beaked whales can be seen swimming through the water near the surface. You can just make it their strange, dolphin-like elongated faces, hence the “beaked” portion of their name. They are named after biologist Frederick True, the first to describe these whales back in the early part of the 20th century.
“To see beaked whales at sea is such a rare event that many researchers devoting their life to study cetaceans have never seen one,” the PeerJ statement reads. “Living in deep waters, usually far offshore, these creatures spend some 92% of their time underwater, invisible to humans. Beaked whales break diving records, feeding at depths that can reach three kilometers and last up to 2 hours. After these diving feats, they rest, performing shorter and shallower dives with brief surfacing intervals. These behaviors, together with the fact that beaked whales live in small groups, are not usually attracted to boats, and do not perform aerial acrobatics as much as dolphins, mean that beaked whales are not easy to detect at sea. Moreover, many beaked whales have variable color patterns that may be shared by other ziphiid species, challenging the identification of beaked whales at the species level during sea encounters, when often only a short glimpse of their body is achieved.”