A rare group of whales have been filmed for the first time by a group of Australian researchers. The Shepherd’s beaked whales, which have only been seen a handful of times, were spotted by the Australian Antarctic Division team off the coast of the Victoria state last month.
The AFP reports that the Australian Antarctic Division team was tracking blue whales when the spotted the rare mammal. Voyage leader Michael Double said that there have only been two confirmed sightings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales and that this was the first time they have ever been photographed.
Double told the AFP:
“These animals are practically entirely known from stranded dead whales, and there haven’t been many of them. They are an offshore animal, occupying deep water, and when they surface it is only for a very short period of time.”
The Australian environment department said that the Shepherd’s beaked whale is so rare that researchers do not have a population estimate.
The Australian researchers were also surprised to see the Shepherd’s beaked whales traveling in a pod. Researchers previously believed that the rare whale was a solitary creature but Double and his team spotted about a dozen Shepherd beaked whales traveling in a group.
“To find them in a pod is very exciting and will change the guide books. Our two whale experts will now carefully study the footage to work out the whale sizes and so on and prepare a scientific paper.”
The AFP notes that the Shepherd’s beaked whale was first discovered in 1937 but it has only been seen a handful of times since then.