Titahi Bay whale proves a curiosity
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.