One of the most elusive deep-sea creatures in existence, True's beaked whale recently emerged long enough to be captured on film.
The gentle cetacean is so seldom sighted that even biologists can spend their whole careers never being able to glimpse one. According to a report from Eurekalert, True's beaked whales belong to the family Ziphiidae, which are known for spending about 92 percent of their time in the deep parts of the ocean that's inaccessible to people. Ziphiids rarely venture to the surface, and when they do, they prefer traveling in small groups and don't chase boats like more playful sea creatures.
True's beaked whales' habits make them a difficult animal to spot, especially since there have very subtle differences between them and other species of beaked whales. Sightings have mostly been limited to the North Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere, with a large gap in distribution between these areas. While this gap may be due to a real lack of presence of the whales, it could also just be due to the elusiveness of the cetacean.
A new study, published in the journal PeerJ, collected stranded data and sightings of the species in Azores and Canary Islands, showing that this region could be potential hotspots in the discovery of the species.
Captured back in 2013, the first ever video shot of the mysterious whale showed three individual True's beaked whales swim at the surface for about 10 minutes, according to a report from Discover Magazine. The small group even appeared to coordinate their dives, a typical behavior of beaked whales.
Another valuable piece of knowledge gained from the study was a new coloration pattern on one of the stranded whales in the region. The pattern has never been spotted on the species before, and the insight could be useful in future sightings and interactions with the species.
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