Captain Ahab may have never gotten the best of his, but scientists have finally caught their white whale—at least, on film. For years, the True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) has proved frustratingly elusive to marine biologists. For one, the rare species is hard to track, surfacing for air less frequently than many whale species and preferring deep waters. Moreover, its appearance is close enough to other species that it’s hard to confirm those few sightings are True’s as opposed to some other whale in its taxonomic family. This scarcity of observation makes a report published in PeerJ all the more exciting, as researchers finally reveal the first underwater footage of the whale , plus surprising new insights on their appearance and travel range based on data taken from strandings. Most interesting of these is the newfound variance in the True’s coloration; a whale found off the Canary Islands had white markings from its beak to its blowhole, debunking previous notions of an all-gray uniformity. Additional discoveries of stranded True’s off the Azores and Canary Islands show the whales’ Northern Hemisphere territory extends even farther south than previously observed.
Source: Science Magazine