Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Saber-toothed whale? 15-foot-long Stejneger's beaked whale found dead.

Saber-toothed whale? Not exactly. Male Stejneger's beaked whales have saber teeth that stick up from the lower jaw, but females – like the one that washed ashore – have their teeth hidden in their gums.

By StaffAssociated Press / October 17, 2013

Heather Doyle, director of the Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, points out shark bites found on a beached Stejneger's "saber-toothed" beaked whale that washed ashore Tuesday in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles, Wednesday Oct. 16, 2013. Heal the Bay plans to study the whale.

Nick Flash/Heal the Bay/AP

Enlarge

LOS ANGELES

A rare whale that has a dolphin-shaped head and saber-like teeth has been found dead on Los Angeles' Venice Beach, even though it prefers frigid subarctic waters.

Skip to next paragraph

The roughly 15-foot-long female Stejneger's beaked whale washed ashore Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Times reported. A truck hauled away the mammal, which was being examined at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum to determine how it died.

The Stejneger's beaked whale is rarely seen in the wild. The species typically dives deep in subarctic waters to feed on squid and small fish. It is believed to migrate as far south as Northern California, and how the whale ended up so far south will probably remain a mystery.

"This is the best," said Nick Fash, an education specialist for the Santa Monica-based environmental group Heal the Bay. "(Previous finds) aren't anything like this. This is a treat."

Males are known for their saber teeth that stick up midway from each side of the lower jaw. However, the teeth of females and their offspring remain hidden beneath the gum tissue.

The whale was alive when it washed ashore, said Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue. Its body was covered in bites from so-called cookie-cutter sharks that feed by gouging round pieces of flesh from larger animals.

Because the species isn't seen much anywhere, the autopsies of washed-up carcasses are the best source for scientists to gather information.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!