Researchers Spot Rare Beaked Whale Off Oregon Coast

A team of marine researchers from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute caught a rare sighting of Hubb’s beaked whale, a shy animal that we know very little about. The team, led by Institute Director Lisa Ballance, was 200 miles off the Oregon coast when their hydrophone picked up some unusual whale song.   

The team intended to hunt for these whales in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where sightings were reported in 2014, but engine troubles forced them to look closer to shore. This turned out to be fortunate for the team. The strange whale song they picked up belonged to the very whales they wanted to study.  

Two whales surfaced near the ship and followed it, close enough for the team to collect small skin samples. They were also able to record the beaked whale’s audio, which marks the first time researchers have positively matched the Hubb’s beaked whale to its song.  

“Linking the acoustic call with a visual description of a poorly known whale… is an extremely powerful tool. Because instantly we know the animal occurs everywhere that call has been recorded,” said Ballance.   

The team hopes to publish their findings next year.  

By Jalen Todd 

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