The spade toothed whale (named due to its spade-shaped teeth) is one of the rarest and least known species of beaked whale.
In fact although earlier observations of this species were identified in the mid to late 1800’s it wasn’t until 2012 that a description of this whales external appearance was identified and confirmed from earlier data of beached specimen found in 2010.
Previous observations identified these marine mammals as belonging to the strap-toothed whale and gray’s beaked whale families until DNA tests confirmed that they were in fact a separate species of whale.
When compared to other beaked whales this species has a relatively large beak with equally large teeth that can measure in at up to 9 inches.
When fully matured these whales are believed to measure in at 16 – 18 ft. long, however their typical body weight is unknown.
Similar to other beaked whales this species has a small triangular-shaped dorsal fin which is located about 2/3 down its back.
They also posses a pair of small flippers, which are likely used to assist with swimming, turning and navigating through the ocean waters.
Captured images of the spade toothed whale (taken in New Zealand) identify these whales as having a grayish skin tone that varies from a light to dark color with a dark-colored back, fins, flukes and beak as well as having dark coloring around the eyes, while the under-body appears to be a lighter gray to white coloring.
Little is known about the diet of these marine mammals.
If these whales maintain the same diet as other beaked whales then it is safe to assume that their diet consists primarily of fish, squid and various crustaceans.
From observations of beached spade-toothed whales and recovered bones it is assumed that these whales are primarily found in the South Pacific ocean as previous bones and whale specimen have been found in areas such as Chile, New Zealand and Chatham Island.
Their extremely rare status and the inability to spot these whales in the ocean could mean that they are either a naturally rare species, live far offshore and/or are extremely good at maintaining a low profile and travel in small pod sizes with large gaps between groups; however each of these assumptions should be taken lightly as very little data has been collected on these whales.
Social structure and breeding
Very little is known about their social structure, gestation period, age of sexual maturity, lifespan and breeding habits.
No conclusive information exists on these topics.
Threats and endangered status
Since these marine mammals have been rarely observed (most observations come from collected bones) these animals are unlikely to face threats from potential poachers or hunters.
The limited number of found specimen also suggests that this may be a naturally rare species, however no confirmations can be made until larger groups of these whales can be successfully observed and researched.
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