Scientists Had Never Seen This Elusive Whale Alive—Until Now

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It’s a common refrain to say we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the deepest parts of our oceans, well a recent paper has shown that maxim extends to the creatures that live there in an embarrassing way.

Humanity has a half-dozen on Mars, but it took until 2022 for Sato’s beaked whale to observed alive for the first time.

Beaked whales, the authors write, are the least-studied of their kind, owing to their low surface profile, long dives, lack of visible blow, general elusiveness, and preference of oceanic shelf or deep ocean habitat.

Sato’s beaked whale has remained elusive for perhaps centuries. The Japanese whaling industry hunts its cousin, Baird’s beaked whale, and the whalers have long been aware that there was a species abound in the same waters that was smaller and darker-skinned. For years it was called “Raven” in the Japanese language.

In 2019, Japanese researches confirmed scientifically its existence using DNA analysis from a deceased individual, but it was two years later when Russian scientists studying killer whales in the choppy waters between their nation and the island of Hokkaido that they found a pod of 14 of the elusive animals.

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