Elusive True’s beaked whale caught on underwater video for the first time

The True’s beaked whale is so rare, so elusive that very few people on the planet can identify it.

But now, for the first time, the deep-diving species has been captured in the wild on underwater video. And researchers has published their findings this week – along with a mesmerizing 46-second video – in the journal PeerJ.

“Live sightings of many beaked whale species are rare events and just a few have been made for True’s beaked whales,” the authors noted.

But Roland Edler recorded this video while with science students on a field trip to the Azores islands in the mid-Atlantic in 2013. It’s the first known underwater footage of the True’s beaked whale, and includes a calf.

“This group was formed by three adult or sub-adult whales,” the researchers note. “Social behavior of this species is still unknown but the group seemed to dive in a coordinated manner, as has been observed in other species of beaked whales.”

How rare are they? Since first being identified in 1913, really, rare, according to the researchers.

“To see beaked whales at sea is such a rare event that many researchers devoting their life to study cetaceans have never seen one. 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.”

Along with the first images of a very young calf and underwater video, the experts also identified new coloration patterns — all of it which help to protect the mysterious creature.

Photos PeerJ

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