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The Most Uncommon Whales?

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Most of us know about blue whales, sperm whales, and dolphins (a type of specialized whale). But what about beaked whales, an elusive group that includes nearly a quarter of all living whale species? 

Beaked Whale

Favoring deepwater habitat, beaked whales, like this unidentified species, are rarely photographed at sea.

Courtesy of Dr. Brandon Southall, NMFS/OPR 


Favoring deepwater habitat, beaked whales are rarely seen by humans. But in the past exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep visitors could see skulls from 12 different species. A video featuring experts from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongerewa, which developed the Whales exhibition, explains more about beaked whales.


Anatomically, beaked whales are remarkable for their unusual "beaked" snouts and, mostly in males, a large pair of tusklike teeth. Not long ago, a beaked whale species known only from a jaw found in the 1870s and a skull in the 1950s was found when a whale beached on New Zealand's Opape Beach, as this Science Bulletins BioNews video reports.


Learn more about beaked whales in Whales: Giants of the Deep.

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Developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This exhibition was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government.

The Museum gratefully acknowledges the Richard and Karen LeFrak Exhibition and Education Fund.

Generous support for Whales has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund.

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