Posted by: The ocean update | March 8, 2017

Caught on film for the first time : one of the world’s rarest whales (Macaronesia)

March 8th, 2017 (Sarah Kaplan). WASHINGTON — Natacha Aguilar de Soto has studied beaked whales for 15 years. She has spent dozens of months at sea, floating above the deepest parts of the ocean, straining her eyes and ears to detect whatever might be moving in the fathoms below.

She rarely finds anything. Beaked whales — a family of 22 cetacean species characterized by dolphinlike noses and missile-shaped bodies — are some of the most elusive animals on earth. They dive deeper and longer than any other marine mammal and spend an estimated 92 percent of their lives far beneath the ocean surface. One species, the True’s beaked whale, is so rare that only a handful of people have ever seen it alive.

‘‘Imagine,’’ Aguilar de Soto said, ‘‘these are animals the size of elephants that we just can’t find. They’re a mystery.’’

Then, in 2013, a colleague sent her a 46-second video clip that had been taken by science students on an educational trip in the Azores. Greenish white shapes drift in a brilliant blue sea. The camera zooms closer and the shapes come into focus: three oblong sea creatures are undulating lazily through the water. They point their pale faces up toward the sky, just barely cresting above the surface, then angle back down again. Too soon, the animals swim out of view, and the videographer pulls the camera back out of the water.

Citation : Aguilar de Soto N, Martín V, Silva M, Edler R, Reyes C, Carrillo M, Schiavi A, Morales T, García-Ovide B, Sanchez-Mora A, Garcia-Tavero N, Steiner L, Scheer M, Gockel R, Walker D, Villa E, Szlama P, Eriksson IK, Tejedor M, Perez-Gil M, Quaresma J, Bachara W, Carroll E. (2017) True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) in MacaronesiaPeerJ5 : e3059




%d bloggers like this: