Nick Fash

Today in sea monsters: A saber-toothed whale washed ashore in Venice Beach, Calif. Never heard of a saber-toothed whale? That’s because they’re super-rare, almost never seen in the wild, according to Nick Fash of Santa Monica nonprofit Heal the Bay

Saber-toothed whales are also called Stejneger’s beaked whales, but “saber-toothed” isn’t just a name. This one’s an adult female, so she doesn’t have the characteristic tusklike teeth, but males and juveniles really do have orthodontic ish:


Maurizio Würtz

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This particular whale was probably alive when she washed up, but that’s all Heal the Bay can say for now (and they may never know some things, like why she was so far south of her subarctic habitat). They’re really excited to find out more, though:

An necropsy will hopefully reveal how the whale died and more information about its diet, Fash said. The whales are so rarely seen in the wild that autopsies of washed-up carcasses are scientists’ main source of gathering information. And to find one in such good condition, this far south, is basically unheard of, he added.

Can’t say we’re glad this very rare whale had to die, but at least she didn’t die in vain.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.