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Los Angeles: Rare Saber-Toothed Whale Washes up on Venice Beach.

An extremely rare saber-toothed whale has washed up on Venice Beach in Los Angeles more than 3,000 miles from its home waters of Alaska.

The carcass of the Stejneger's Beaked Whale washed ashore and was found by the environmental group Heal the Bay.

They posted pictures on the group's Facebook page showing the whale, which is so rarely seen alive and its population size is unknown.

As well as Stejneger's Beaked Whale and sabre-toothed whale, the species is also referred to as the Bering Sea beaked whale, as the skull of the whale was first described after being found on Bering Island in 1883.

They grow to over five metres in length and have a beak and teeth much larger than most other beaked whales. In males, their teeth stick up midway from each side of their lower jaws.

Normally, the species lives in the northern regions of the Pacific Ocean and the team at Heal the Bay described the find as a "treat".

The whale was covered in small shark bites but is remarkably well preserved, Nick Fash, an education specialist for Heal the Bay told the Los Angeles Times. He said a saber-toothed whale in such good condition so far south is almost unheard of.

An autopsy will now be carried out on the whale to find out more about its diet and how it died. The group believe it probably washed ashore alive.

Peter Wallerstein, of Marine Animal Rescue, told "We helped get it out of the water, and it was still alive. I was kind of shocked because we couldn't identify it. It is odd. I had never seen one."

A statement from Heal the Bay said: "A Stejneger's Beaked Whale washed ashore in Venice Beach last night. It was a female, and she was covered with cookie cutter shark bites.

"The Stejneger's Beaked Whale is a Northern species that frequents our coast but is predominantly found in the waters of Alaska. It is very rare and almost never seen alive.

"Our team from the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium made it down just in time as David Janiger of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum's Stranding Response Team had loaded it onto a flat bed truck. They are currently taking the whale away to be studied.

"It is very exciting for the scientific community to find an intact specimen of such an extremely rare whale that we know very little about. This whale will help us learn more about the species as a whole and may help us better preserve and protect it and other ocean animals like it."

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

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Oct 17, 2013
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