The skeleton of a rare whale unearthed by superstorm Sandy erosion has been discovered on a Florida beach.
WESH reports that an Orlando-area couple was combing New Smyrna Beach for sand dollars when they saw a piece of bone jutting out from an eroded dune. They started digging and uncovered an 8 to 9 foot beaked whale skeleton that is thought to have been buried in the sand for decades.
The bones have been reported to authorities and will be housed at a local marine science center.
According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, beaked whales forage for food in deep-sea dives that are "deeper and longer than those reported for any other air-breathing species." Their deep-sea habitat makes the species difficult to study, so less is known about them than other whales.
In November, CNN reported that a pair of dead whales that washed ashore in New Zealand in 2010 were confirmed to be spade-toothed beaked whales, one of the rarest species in the world. Data on the species was so rare that it took scientists two years to positively identify the whales.
This isn't the first time rare old whale bones have been found on a U.S. beach this year. In November, the fossilized vertebrae of an extinct whale species were found by surfers on a Santa Cruz, Calif., beach.