Posted by: The ocean update | February 1, 2016

Beaked whale washes up on Waitpinga Beach (Australia)

Advertiser journalist Josephine Lim looks at the beached beaked whale on Waitpinga Beach. Picture : Tait Schmaal

Advertiser journalist Josephine Lim looks at the beached beaked whale on Waitpinga Beach. Picture : Tait Schmaal

February 1st, 2016. ONE of South Australia’s rare marine mammals has washed up on a southern beach.

The beaked whale was found on Waitpinga Beach, about 16km from Victor Harbor, yesterday by locals.

The 3.5m mammal was tethered to the beach with a rope, so it would not drift back out to sea before South Australian Museum researchers could get there to examine it today.

SA Museum mammals senior researcher Dr Cath Kemper said tests would identify exactly which beaked whale species it was.

“There are groups of beaked whales that live in the deep water off South Australia,” she said.

“We won’t be able to absolutely confirm which species it is until we look at the skull.

Ed Sibylline : according Wojtek B., it’s a subadult female Layard’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon layardii)

Of the 22 species in the beaked whale family, eight species have been recorded in SA waters.

“We unfortunately have no idea how many there are out in the ocean because they are hard to see,” Dr Kemper said.

“There is still a lot we can learn from this animal this is a rare opportunity that we have with this one.

“Beaked whales tend to strand during summer and we might get on average two a year, so this is not totally uncommon.”

Beaked whales belong to the toothed whale family, which are notable for their elongate beaks, and are some of the most extreme divers.

They are one of the least known groups of mammals because of their deep-sea habitat, mysterious habits and apparent low abundance.

The SA Museum team will be on Waitpinga Beach for most of the day.

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