Outdoors Just For Kids: Rare Whales Are An Oceanic Mystery | Just for kids

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The South Pacific Ocean covers more than a tenth of the Earth’s surface, approximately 52 million square miles, and contains some of the deepest ocean trenches. The ocean surrounds the island of New Zealand where three years ago two whales stranded and died.

Scientists have now published research showing that whales were two of the rarest in the world – a mother and son spade-toothed beaked whale.

By whale standards, they were quite small. The mother was only 17 feet long and the male calf was about 11 feet long. They looked a bit like porpoises, the ones that take turns in large aquariums, but their black and white coloring looks more like orcas.

These are the only two intact spade-toothed beaked whales ever to be identified. The species was known to exist based on a jawbone and two skulls found over the past 140 years.

There are actually 21 known species of beaked whales, and 13 of them live in waters near New Zealand. The spade-toothed beaked whale is believed to live in the deepest waters of the South Pacific, diving long distances to find small fish and squid to eat. Because it lives in such deep waters, little is known about the whale.

Whales are not fish. They are mammals that breathe air. They give birth to live babies, while the fish hatch from eggs. The blue whale is the largest animal to ever exist on Earth. Whales, dolphins and porpoises are all related, and some scientists believe they were descended from land animals 50 million years ago.

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