Saber-Toothed Whale, Extremely Rare Creature, Washes Ashore In Venice Beach, Calif.

By Josh Lieberman on October 18, 2013 3:58 PM EDT

saber toothed whale
An extremely rare saber-toothed whale washed up in Venice Beach, Calif., on Wednesday. The creature is almost never seen alive. (Photo: Facebook: Heal the Bay)

A rare saber-toothed whale turned up in the waters of Venice Beach in Los Angles, Calif., on Wednesday. While the little-understood creature is itself rare -- its population size is unknown -- it's also very rare for a carcass to come ashore almost perfectly intact. Washed-up whales are usually decomposed and eaten away, but this Stejneger's Beaked Whale, as it's more formally known, was in only marred by a couple of shark bites. 

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"[The whale] was a female, and she was covered with cookie cutter shark bites," wrote environmental non-profit group Heal the Bay on their Facebook page. "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."

Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue said that the whale was still alive when they got it out of the water, and that he was shocked that he couldn't identify it at first. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles will perform a necropsy on the 15-foot, 2,000-pound creature, which may reveal the cause of the whale's death and its diet. Necropsies are the source of much that is known about saber-toothed whales, as the creatures are almost never observed in the wild.   

"[The saber-toothed whale] is most commonly stranded in Alaska, especially along the Aleutian Islands," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "Also, there have been a large number of strandings (at least 34) from along the Sea of Japan coast of Japan, and many fewer along the Pacific coast."

The saber-toothed whale is the second extremely rare creature to wash up on Southern California this week. On Sunday, an 18-foot oarfish was found off of Catalina Island. Like saber-toothed whales, oarfish are very rarely seen alive. 

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