WATCH: Rare Footage Captured of Extraordinary ‘Yellow Whales’

by Megan Molseed

What an amazing and rare sight to behold. Last week, Don Biagini the owner of Gone Whale Watching San Diego encountered something rarely seen. During an 8 hour expedition that took the ecotour leader seventy miles off-shore, Biagini spotted a group of Cuvier’s beaked whales swimming along the surface of the sea.

“You’ve heard of blue whales, you’ve heard of gray whales, you’ve probably even heard legends of white whales, but have you ever heard of a yellow whale?” Biagini inquired on Facebook.

“A weekend of incredible sightings was capped by a remarkable encounter with Cuvier’s beaked whales,” he continued on the post. “One of the most elusive and mysterious cetaceans on earth!”

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale Is a Rare Sight

Cuvier’s beaked whales are considered to be widespread among the oceans. However, sightings are not very common because they tend to stay far offshore.

Cuvier’s beaked whales can be dark gray, reddish-brown, and, like the ones spotted by Biagini, a brownish-yellow. An infestation of tiny algae and diatoms oftentimes causes this unique yellow hue notes the  NOAA Fisheries.

Biagini, who owns and operates a San Fransisco-based ecotour company was able to capture the unique sight. Even from an aerial point-of-view using drone technology. The result is a breathtaking video featuring the magnificent beaked whales.

“This is some of the only drone footage ever taken of this species, and it was an amazing moment for everyone involved,” Biagini said of the video. “Initially 12 of these yellowish-brown whales appeared as we were waiting for one of the many blue whales that we had been observing to surface.”

Biagini, his crew, and his passengers first observed the whales while they were preying on squid. According to the ecotourist, the whales even surfaced next to the boat with the freshly caught squid in their mouths.

“After a 30-minute dive, half-a-dozen Cuvier’s returned to the surface with chunks of squid right next to our boat!” Biagini continued.

“The water depth was over 6,000 feet in this location,” Biagini explained. “Which is nothing for a Cuvier’s as they are the deepest diving animal on earth!”

The whales featured in Biagini’s video show scarring on their bodies. However, this is not uncommon for the Cuvier’s beaked whales. This type of whale often scars as a result of encounters with cookie-cutter sharks, lamprey’s or even fighting with other Cuvier’s beaked whales.

Record-Breaking Depths

This type of whale can grow up to twenty feet long. The beaked whale is also the deepest diving whale on the planet. The deepest recorded dive by this species occurred in 2014, reaching an amazing 9,816 feet below the surface. That’s just about two miles deep. Additionally, the Cuvier’s beaked whales also have the ability to stay underwater for a long period of time, allowing for these deep dives. The longest recorded dive of a Cuvier’s beaked whale clocks in at over 220 minutes, just over three-and-a-half hours.