Entries in Whale (2)


World’s Rarest Whale Found on New Zealand Beach

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- It is safe to call spade-toothed beaked whales the world’s rarest whale species -- so rare that when a mother and calf became stranded and died on a New Zealand beach in 2010, scientists did not believe they had anything unusual.

Now, after doing DNA typing and further investigation, they report Tuesday in the journal Current Biology that the two were spade-toothed beaked whales, a species never actually seen by scientists before.

"This is the first time a spade-toothed beaked whale has been seen as a complete specimen, and we were lucky enough to find two of them,” said lead scientist Rochelle Constantine at the University of Auckland in a statement to accompany the paper.  

"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,” said Constantine.  “It is remarkable that we know almost nothing about such a large mammal.”

The mother and her 11-foot-long male calf were buried in the sand after they were found, and tissue samples were sent to the university as a matter of routine.  Six months later, Constantine and a colleague, Kirsten Thompson, finally got around to doing a DNA test and found they had something that had never before been tested.

Spade-toothed beaked whales are thought, like other species, to dive deep for food, living mostly off squid in the southern Pacific.  But biologists concede they are speculating based on the behavior of similar whales.  

Members of this species have never been seen or examined in any detail before.  The two carcasses have been dug up for further study.  Why they beached themselves is a mystery, say the scientists.

“Based on the scarcity of records and the total absence of previous sightings, this species is the least known species of whale and one of the world’s rarest living mammals,” write Constantine and her colleagues in their report in Current Biology.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Giant Whale Shark Reeled In By Pakistani Fisherman

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Big catch is an understatement!

A 40-foot long whale shark was found dead near Karachi, Pakistan, the Express Tribune, a Pakistani newspaper reports. Mehmood Khan, the owner of the Charai Fishery, said the whale shark was spotted unconscious 10 days ago in waters about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the fishery.

Curious onlookers swarmed the pier while two cranes attempted to lift the shark, approximately 40 to 50-feet long and six-feet wide, out of the water. After failing to reel in the fish, more cranes, capable of lifting heavier weights, were called in for the task. The shark was finally lifted from the sea after several hours of efforts and sold for 1.7 million Rupees ($18,750).

Whale shark are found deep in warm oceans and eats plankton primarily. The largest confirmed whale shark in history was 41 ft long.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio