The whales you’ve never heard of

Beaked whales are the second largest whale family on Earth, but they are a mystery even to the scientists that study them

One quarter of the world’s 87 species of whale are beaked whales. Their preference for deep water and ability to hold their breath make them extremely difficult to study. The deepest diving mammal on the planet is Cuvier’s beaked whale. This incredible animal reaches depths of almost 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) and stays down there for 140 minutes at a time. That’s over two hours. Even more impressively, the average time a Cuvier’s beaked whale stays at the surface is only two minutes.

Not only do these animals have bizarre diving habits, but they have the tendency to fight. Only male Cuvier’s beaked whales have teeth and each has only two. These teeth protrude from the mouth and the whales use them to scratch one another. Over time, the dark brown bodies of each male bear more and more white scar tissue until the body turns completely white. Female beaked whales don’t have any teeth at all, so when spotting them in the wild it is easy to instantly differentiate between scarred males and smooth, brown females.

Watch the footage below to get acquainted with these mysterious whales.

 
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