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Unidentified chilean whale

Based on the 1964 sighting

The Antarctic Long-Finned Whale is an unconfirmed species of small dark whale spotted in and around the world's southern oceans. Several reports of unidentified whales throughout the 19th and 20th centuries have been attributed to this species. Length estimates range between 20-30 feet.


In 1841, commander of the Erebus James C. Ross and surgeon Robert McCormick reported seeing a high-finned whale in the Ross Sea off Ross Island, Antarctica.


Zoologist Edward A. Wilson observed groups of similar cetaceans on January 28 and February 8, 1902, during Robert Scott’s Discovery expedition to the Antarctic. They were black, with some white around the mouth or chin. The dorsal fins were 3–4 feet long and sabre-shaped.


Unidentified Chilean whales 1964

Photo of the 1964 sighting

Cetologist Robert Clarke and colleagues logged eight sightings of a high-finned mystery whale about 20 feet long off the coast of Chile, November 24–27, 1964. The species was described as having a round face and streak-like markings. Clarke suggests that the whales may be a new species of False Killer Whale or Risso's Dolphin, and directly compares it to the whales sighted by Edward A. Wilson in 1902:

The animal agrees well with the 'undescribed whale' reported and figured by Wilson (1905, p. 472; 1907, p. 4 and Whales, Plate I) as 20-30 feet long, black above but with some white about the mouth or chin, and characterised by a high dorsal fin 'erect, pointed and sabre-shaped'; several were seen in the Ross Sea during the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901-1904), but they have never been reported since - Whale observation and whale marking off the coast of Chile in 1964, p. 151


  • James Clark Ross, A Voyage of Discovery and Research in the Southern and Antarctic Regions, during the Years 1839–43, vol. 1 (London: John Murray, 1847)
  • Edward Adrian Wilson, Mammalia (Cetacea & Pinnipedia) (London, 1907), pp. 4–5;
  • Robert Clarke, Anelio Aguayo L., and Sergio Basulto del Campo, “Whale Observation and Whale Marking off the Coast of Chile in 1964,” Scientific Report of the Whales Research Institute, no. 30 (1978): 117–177;
  • Darren Naish, “Multitudinous Enigmatic Cetaceans, or ‘Whales in Limbo,’” Animals and Men, no. 11 (December 1996): 28–34.