Ti­tahi Bay whale proves a cu­rios­ity

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TOM HUNT

A whale from a fam­ily of ‘‘the least known marine mam­mals’’ washed up on Ti­tahi Bay beach last week.

The 5.7 me­tre whale was spot­ted at the south end of Ti­tahi Bay early last Tues­day morn­ing.

Ewan Fordyce, from Otago Univer­sity, said it ap­peared to be a cu­vier’s beaked whale, which was part of a fam­ily of beaked whales that dived deep to hunt squid.

This whale ap­peared to have scars caused by bites from ‘‘cookie-cut­ter’’ sharks, he said.

How­ever, that was common and was un­likely to be the cause of death.

It was un­clear if the whale had been stranded or died then washed up on the beach.

‘‘Beaked whales are a bit un­usual in that they have very re­duced teeth.

‘‘ They can suck in their food with­out need for teeth – rather like we can suck in spaghetti.’’

The cu­vier’s beaked whale was well known from strand­ings around New Zealand and was found in most of the world’s oceans, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to teara.govt.nz, the chance of see­ing any of the 11 beaked whale species that in­habit New Zealand wa­ters was ‘‘slight’’.

In some cases, their ex­is­tence was known only be­cause their bod­ies had washed ashore.

Beaked whales live in the open ocean, div­ing at least 300m for squid.

Large crowds, in­clud­ing school­child­ren, vis­ited the beach to see the whale.

The body was re­moved by truck after the tide had re­ceded.

Beached: The whale that washed up in Ti­tahi Bay.

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