Rare whale found after superstorm Sandy erosion

Posted at 2:48 PM, Dec 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-19 14:48:10-05

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. –Erosion from superstorm Sandy has revealed the skeleton of the rare beaked whale.

WESH reports than a Florida couple was out looking for sand dollars when they spotted a piece of bone sticking out from an eroded dune. Upon further digging they found a huge skeleton that researchers believe has been buried for decades.

The bones were submitted to the county and will be studied for research.

In November, CNN reported that a pair of dead whales that washed ashore in New Zealand in 2010 were confirmed to be spade-toothed beaked whales, one of the rarest species in the world.

“It was a bit like finding the holy grail,” said Anton van Helden, the collection manager of marine mammals at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, told CNN.

Data on the species was so rare that it took scientists two years to positively identify the whales.

The results were stunning because only three partial specimens of the species were known to exist — two collected in New Zealand in 1872 and in the 1950s and a third found on Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile in 1986.

The spade-toothed beaked whale looks similar to a large black, white and gray dolphin with its long pointed snout. Scientists believe they grow to be about 17 feet long. Adult males have large exposed teeth as the name suggests.

“This is the species of whale that we know the least about in the world,” a scientist told CNN. “It has never been seen before, as far as we know, and for the first time we have an idea of what it looks like.”

***CNN wire contributed to this report.