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Saber-toothed whale washes ashore in Venice Beach

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium director Heather Doyle points to the carcass of a Stejneger's beaked whale that washed ashore in Venice Beach
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium director Heather Doyle points to the carcass of a Stejneger's beaked whale that washed ashore in Venice Beach
Nick Fash/Heal the Bay

Los Angeles scientists today are trying to determine why a rare saber-toothed whale abandoned its sub-arctic environment to make its way into a body a water that may have not been conducive to its survival.

The approximate 15-foot female mammal, which washed ashore in Venice Beach October 15, is currently undergoing an autopsy to help researchers come up with some answers regarding its behavior and eating habits.

Stejneger's beaked whales are known for diving deeply into the frigid body of the north Pacific Ocean to dine on such cephalopods as squid.

The most significant characteristic of the males is their set of very large and visible tusk-like teeth. In the female, the teeth are not as prominent.

Specialists believe the whale, which exhibited a series of common cookie-cutter shark bites, may have been alive when it washed ashore.

Such beaked whales have been observed along both sides of the Pacific from Japan to California. Although infrequent, some may choose to migrate south during winter.

As is the case with Stejneger's beaked whales, no population estimates have been made.

SharonBush@me.com