Shepherd’s Beaked Whale: Extremely Rare Whale Caught for First Time on Film [VIDEO & PHOTO]

 @julia_greenberg on February 23 2012 1:04 PM

In a lucky encounter, the Australian Antarctic Division research team spotted a group of extremely rare Shepherd's beaked whales off the coast of Australia. The rare whales have been caught on film for the first time in history.

The team was tracking blue whales off the coast of Victoria last month when they spotted the rare species with dolphin-like beaks. The black and cream-colored whales were first discovered in 1937, but they have only been seen a few times in history.

To encounter this group was amazing but the fact that they remained at the surface for so long that we could get many minutes of footage is unique, voyage leader Michael Double told Australian ABC News.

I've never seen any other footage of Shepherd's beaked whale and since we've come back we've been doing a fair bit of research on this, but really there are so few photographs even, never mind about footage.

The rare whale has only been seen a few times and researcher Natalie Schmitt told ABC News that the new footage will give scientists an opportunity to study the strange mammal.

They are an offshore animal, occupying deep water, and when they surface it is only for a very short period of time, Double told AFP.

To find them in a pod is very exciting and will change the guide books. Our two whale experts will now carefully study the footage to work out the whale sizes and so on and prepare a scientific paper, he said.

Watch Footage of the Shepherd's Beaked Whale:

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