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Shepherd's Beaked Whale

Shepherd's Beaked Whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi) also commonly called the Tasman Beaked Whale or simply the Tasman Whale is a cetacean of the family Ziphidae. The whale has hardly been studied at all. No certain identification has been made at sea and only 28 specimens have been recorded stranded.

Physical description: Shepherd's Beaked Whale had a long beak which narrows to a pointed tip and a bluff melon. It is the only beaked whale with a full set of functionall teeth. The body is about seven metres long and the dorsal fin is located about two-thirds the way along the back. The fin is falcate. The back is coloured dark brown to black with lighter patches running diagonally on the sides with a light underside.

Population and distribution: No population estimates exist for Shepherd's Beaked Whale. As of 2003, 20 stranded specimens had been collected from New Zealand, 3 from Argentina, 2 from the Juan Fernandez, 1 from Australia and 1 from the Sandwich Islands. There have been two reports of live sightings - one in New Zealand and one from the Seychelles. On 5th March 2004 a twentieth-eighth stranding was found by a surfer on the coast of Taranaki in the north of Waitara, New Zealand (close to the site of the first stranding in 1933). The specimen was removed for autopsy by the Department of Conservation.

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