World’s rarest whale seen for first time

The world’s rarest whale has been seen for the first time after a mother and calf were washed up and died on a beach in New Zealand.
Spade-toothed beaked whales were first discovered in 1872 when bone fragments of the then-unknown species were found on a remote Pacific island, but until now the animals themselves have remained entirely hidden from human view.
In the 140 years since they were first discovered, the only sign that the creatures’ continued existence lay in two partial skulls found in New Zealand in the 1950s and Chile in 1986.
Now scientists have reported a complete description of the whales, which are thought to spend most of their lives in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean, only rarely coming to the surface.
The Mother and her male calf were stranded and died on Opape Beach at the northern tip of New Zealand in December 2010 but were initially thought to be of a much more common species known as Gray’s beaked whales.
It was only after routine DNA analysis that experts realised their true identity. They published their findings this week.

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