The Most Uncommon Whales?

by AMNH on

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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 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.

te papa logo

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: Giants of the Deep has been provided by the Eileen P. Bernard Exhibition Fund.