By Ana Verayo, | March 09, 2017
First underwater images of Trues beaked whales showing its characteristic morphology and coloration patterns. (Roland Edler/PeerJ)
For the first time ever, marine biologists have captured video evidence of one of the rarest whale species on Earth known as True's beaked whale. This new footage was released this week giving scientists the opportunity to further study and observe these rare and majestic marine mammals.
According to the lead author of the study, Natacha Aguilar de Soto from the University of La Laguna in Canary Islands in northwestern Africa, these animals are the size of elephants and are truly mysterious. True's beaked whales (Mesoplodon mirus) can grow up to 17.5 feet long as adults and weigh up to 3,000 pounds, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
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In this new study, researchers were able to obtain a video in 2013. Science students recorded the animal underwater in the Azores Islands in mid-Atlantic ocean. This is considered to be the first underwater footage of a True's beaked whale.
"When I saw the video, I just could not believe it. These are True's beaked whales," Aguilar de Soto, who also works for the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said. In the video, the whale pod or group appears to dive and swim in a coordinated manner which is a similar behavior observed in other beaked whale species. Apart from this, the researchers also released the first photographs of a True's beaked whale calf.
The reason why scientists could not detect this species is due to the fact that researchers cannot recognize them. These rare whales only come to the surface of the ocean for very short periods of time and even appear strikingly similar to other whale species. For years, data about the True's beaked whales population levels, geographic distribution, physical features, and appearance have been elusive. This makes conservation efforts more challenging.
This new study hopes to provide more knowledge and crucial information about the True's beaked whale so that conservationists and scientists can make a proper assessment of their health and the overall state of the species. This data also includes strandings statistics and sightings along with genetic analysis of the whales.
Most importantly, new findings also revealed that the True's beaked whale also possesses a unique coloration and pattern, that should be able to help biologists and researchers identify them easily in the future. This new study was published in the journal PeerJ.
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