A team of researchers tracking whales off the coast of Australia were hoping for blue whales but what they caught sight of was a welcome surprise. The scientists part of the Australian Antarctic Division saw -- and filmed -- a whale species so rarely seen that it's not widely studied and no estimates of how many actually exist have been made.
For the first time video footage was taken of a whole pod of 10 to 12 Shepherd's beaked whales. Just the sight of them will be changing some previously held assumptions about the species. For example, Yahoo! News reports that they were previously thought to be a solitary animal -- this pod shows otherwise. What scientists currently know about the species comes mostly from carcasses that have washed up on beaches.
Watch this news report with footage of the whales:
Yahoo! reports that the Australian environmental department says there were two previous confirmed sightings before this. A single whale was spotted in New Zealand and three in Western Australia
With this footage in hand, scientists are going to study the mammals' coloring, movements, actions and other characteristics to glean more about the species.