Ear: Beaked

"Rarest sighting ever, nearshore, of a beaked whale," marine biologist Carrie Newell, CEO of Whale Research Eco Excursions in Depoe Bay, posted Aug. 17 on the WREE Facebook page.

"Yesterday on the 10 a.m. and noon trips my captain, Joe, radioed me and asked what weird whale are we looking at?" she explained. "I saw this copper-colored, bulbous-headed, around 15-foot whale, and was baffled. I went through my 37 years of whale knowledge in my head, and just could not figure out for sure what weird cetacean it was." A photo from the WREE post is shown.

She called friend and whale expert John Calambokidis, who thought it might be a Cuvier’s beaked whale, but he asked a beaked whale expert to chime in, as well.

Beaked whales are usually in deep water, she noted. This one was in only 27 feet of water, just 100 feet offshore. They "also only eat squid," so she checked a fish cleaning station, and "sure enough the lingcod were packed with squid in their stomachs."

As it turned out, "the expert thinks it is a Bairds beaked whale (bit.ly/bairdbeak)," the marine biologist reported, which are around 35 feet long. "But the beak is still a little too short," she added, "and the whale must be young, since it is only around 15 feet long. Incredible sighting!”

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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