Exciting news today for fans of mysterious species. Remains of whales found in 2010 on the beaches of New Zealand have finally been identified as a spade-toothed beaked whale. Sadly, a mother and a calf of the species were found washed up on the sand.
UPDATE 7 Nov 2012: here is an image of the whale as provided by the New Zealand Government (and sourced by me from this site: http://www.theworld.org/2012/11/rarest-whale/):
This for me completes a circle. In his magnificent personal history of whales, Leviathan, Philip Hoare mentions this species in passing:
“Even now there are beaked whales, or ziphiids, known only from bones washed up on remote beaches – esoteric, deep sea animals with strange markings which biologists have never seen alive or dead, so little studied that their status is data-deficient’. “
Ever since I read his book, I have been fascinated by the idea that such a large animal could remain out of sight of humanity. Now this discovery confirms the existence of these mysterious whales. We can but hope that a larger population remains in the Southern Ocean, safe from the perilous shore.