Scientists Capture First Footage of One of Earth's Rarest Whales

Mar 7 2017 -- 2:30 PM

There's not a ton that we know about True's beaked whale, one of the rarest whale species on Earth. They're about 17 feet long, they might eat squid, we know their approximate habitat... and there's little more than that. Googling images of the seldom-seen mammal brings up more illustrations and skeleton pictures than real-life representations. That's what makes this all the more exciting: We now have the first-ever video footage of the animal, courtesy of a research team from the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland.

As Gizmodo puts it, seeing a True's beaked whale is so rare that experts who spend their lives studying whales are likely to never encounter one. A team in the Azores — 850 miles off the coast of Portugal, in the northern Atlantic Ocean — found the whales and published an accompanying paper, in which they highlight some new discoveries. Namely, they've found a new color pattern in the whales, and gained a better understanding of where their habitat is.

What is it that makes these whales so hard to research? Well, our lives don't much overlap with theirs. The species spends 92 percent of its time underwater, and are often living their lives at depths of 9,800 feet. They're also not attracted to boats, so most of the research we've been able to conduct on True's beaked whale come from dead bodies or when they breach.

Humans first discovered the species in 1912, meaning that it's taken us over 100 years to get it on video. So basically, if you're playing team hide-and-seek, pick these chubby little whales for your side.

Featured image: PeerJ