A fascinating piece of curation from Brain Pickings. Ten centuries of anatomy drawings covering everything from Civil War wounds to anti-tuberculosis flyers from China.
For the past 175 years, the The National Library of Medicine in Bethesda has been building the world’s largest collection of biomedical images, artifacts, and ephemera. With more than 17 million items spanning ten centuries, it’s a treasure trove of rare, obscure, extravagant wonders, most of which remain unseen by the public and unknown even to historians, librarians, and curators. Until now.
Scientists on a research voyage in Bass Straight (south of Australia) got an exhilarating surprise when they chanced upon what might be the world’s most mysterious and elusive whale: the Shepherd’s beaked whale. It is believed this is the first time the species has ever been captured on video (shown below).
Since the Shepherd’s beaked whale was first described in 1937, there have been only 3 confirmed sightings of the animal besides this one. Due to its extreme rarity, almost nothing is known about the species. What little is known has mostly been derived from strandings or carcasses that have washed ashore. But just over 40 such strandings have ever been recorded.
Adults of the species can reach lengths of about 20-23 feet and typically weigh about 2.32 to 3.48 tons. They have a dark brown color on their dorsal side but are cream-colored ventrally, and males display a pair of tusks at the tip of the lower jaw.
One of the reasons the whales are so difficult to spot is that they are typically found only in deep, offshore habitats where sighting conditions are rarely ideal (i.e., along the latitudes commonly referred to as the “Roaring 40’s” and “Furious 50’s”). Like other beaked whales within the family Ziphidae, Shepherd’s beaked whales can also dive for long periods– over an hour at a time– and to extreme depths. In fact, most beaked whales dive to such great depths that they must surface slowly to avoid decompression sickness.
All sightings and strandings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales have occurred in waters off New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.
Here is some rare footage from 1938 of a few big swells coming into Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA). The long jetties at the mouth of the harbor providing smooth seas haven’t been built yet, and the waves are looking really good!
The area was known as the “Waikiki of the west coast”. The Balboa side jetty was built using a railroad to bring in rocks from inland, and is under construction when this film was made. The CDM side jetty was constructed a few years later using rocks barged over from Catalina Island.
Here are a few screenshots from the footage showing the harbor mouth without the jetties you see there today.