Rare 'saber-toothed' whale washes up on popular California beach

Oct. 17, 2013 at 5:38 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Scientists in California say a rare "saber-toothed" whale was found washed up on Los Angeles' popular Venice Beach, showing evidence of a shark attack.

"We helped get it out of the water, and it was still alive," Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue said. "I was kind of shocked because we couldn't identify it."

The Stejneger's beaked whale, known for its saber-like teeth, is usually found in the frigid subarctic waters of the Bering Sea or off the coast of Japan and usually don't venture further south than Northern California., experts said.

"We were very lucky," Nick Fash, an educator at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, told the Los Angeles Times. "These whales are incredibly rare and almost never seen in the wild."

Male Stejneger's beaked whales have tusk-like teeth protruding from their lower jaws, although females and juveniles do not posses them -- nor did the Venice Beach carcass, a female.

Scientists said a necropsy would be performed which should reveal more about how this particular whale died, as well as the diet of the elusive species, known to feed on small-deep water fish and squid that live in deep waters.

"This is the best," Fash said. "[Previous finds] aren't anything like this. This is a treat."

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