An education team and schoolchildren have captured extraordinary underwater footage of True’s beaked whales by putting a camera under the water’s surface.
This elusive cetacean is rarely seen – only seven live sightings have ever been recorded in the archipelagos of Macaronesia, which include the Azores.
Watch the amazing video:
“Nobody on board recognised the species they were watching at just 5m from the boat,” said Natacha Aguilar de Soto, lead author of the paper.
“They were filming a historical first underwater video of True’s beaked whales!”
There are 22 species of beaked whale, and although they share common behaviours, very little is known about the majority of them.
Five beaked whale species have been found to dive regularly to depths of more than 1km, and to a maximum depth of 3km for up two hours.
“Nothing is currently known about the diving behaviour of True’s beaked whales … yet,” said Aguilar de Soto.
“Maybe now that we have discovered Azores as a hotspot for this species we can tag it and find how it dives.”
The video footage was submitted with a research paper that collated information on True’s beaked whales in Macaronesia.
As well as featuring the first underwater footage of this species, the paper also reported on the first True’s beaked whales in the Canary Islands, which were confirmed using genetic analysis.
According to ORCA (a cetacean conservation charity), there are only three confirmed sightings of True’s beaked whales in UK waters, with an additional three individuals in the southern Bay of Biscay and three individuals off the north-west Spanish coast.
“We know the least about beaked whales mainly due to their elusive behaviour. They spend a lot of time submerged in very deep water and they are difficult to identify,” said an ORCA spokesperson.
Due to how difficult it is to identify the True’s beaked whale there is no population estimate and they are currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List.