This cast is the exact replica of a whale that beached in 2002 along our Western Cape coastline and was acquired by Ocean Odyssey as an educational tool to highlight the importance of the conservation of our whales and other marine species. (The skull of this whale is exhibited in a museum in Port Elizabeth.)
The whale was identified by well-known Professor Vic Cockcroft of the Centre of Dolphin studies as a True’s Beaked whale (Mesoploden mirus). The stranding served as a fantastic research opportunity for marine biologists of the region. “It was amazingly valuable for marine science, simply because we know almost nothing about these animals as they have only been seen two or three times alive,” said Prof. Cockcroft of the stranding.
The True’s Beaked whale is one of the rarest members of the family Ziphiidae, which consists of 22 species and is characterised by its small head and elongated beak, large round body and a dorsal fin which is set far toward the posterior. It is a toothed whale and can be recognised as such by the single blowhole as well as the presence of teeth (rather than baleen). It is believed to feed primarily on deep-water squid.
Beaked whales are some of the most extreme divers known, frequently diving to depths of 1000m or more and because of their deep-sea habitat, mysterious habits and low abundance, they are one of the least known groups of marine mammals.
We’re so proud of the replica, we’ve names him Blue. And he even has his own Facebook page.