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Home / News / General / Hawaii’s cetaceans

Hawaii’s cetaceans

By: Denver Leaman

Baird’s Beaked Whale

Baird’s Beaked Whale (Berardius bairdii)
Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Ziphiidae
Occurs in Hawaiian waters.

Other known names:

Northern giant bottlenose whale, North Pacific bottlenose whale, Giant four-toothed whale.

Identity keys to use in the field:

Long, spindle-shaped body, Bulbous melon, Long beak, Dives for long periods, Small dorsal fin.

General description and habits:

Baird's beaked whales are the largest of the beaked whales. They have a long slate-gray, spindle-shaped body with scars and scratches that may make the body appear lighter. In males these scratches are often found in parallel pairs. The underside has variable white spots and blotches. The lower jaw projects beyond the upper jaw and so the lower front teeth protrude from the mouth when the mouth is closed. The flippers are far forward on the body; the back is broad and flat with a low dorsal fin with rounded end. The bulging forehead is more prominent in males than in females, despite the fact that the females are generally larger. Baird's beaked whales are about 4.5m (14 ft 9in) long when they are born. They grow to at least 10.7 meters (35ft) and some individuals can be 12.8 meters (42ft) long). The birth weight of Baird's beaked whales is not known, but adults weigh between 11 and 15 tonnes. These whales tend to inhabit the deep offshore waters of the northern North Pacific. They are very social animals, living in tight community groups that range from 3 - 30 individuals. Like other beaked whales they dive deeply, typically for 25 - 30 minutes although 67 minutes has been recorded. When surfacing the beak and forehead break the water and the blowhole normally disappears before the dorsal fin emerges. The entire pod will often surface and blow in unison. Spy hopping, lob tailing and logging have all been observed with these whales. The scars on their bodies suggest aggressive behavior between animals. They are wary of boats in areas where they are hunted but are less timid elsewhere.


Fish, krill, other crustaceans, and squid.


Baird's beaked whales are found in warm to cold temperate waters of the North Pacific. They are particularly abundant around the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific; the Sea of Okhotsk; California, USA; Vancouver Island, Canada; Japan and the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Population estimates:

The population status is unknown.


The Japanese hunt these whales in certain areas within their waters.

Interesting facts:

Baird's beaked whales have a gestation of up to 17 months. Baird's beaked whales can live for a very long time. A male killed off the coast of Japan in 1975, was believed to be 82 years old.

Hawaii’s cetaceans
  • Humpback whales
  • Striped Dolphin
  • Spinner Dolphin
  • Baird’s Beaked Whale
  • Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Blainville's Beaked Whale
  • Bryde's Whale
  • Cuvier's Beaked Whale
  • Dwarf Sperm Whale
  • False Killer Whale
  • Fin Whale
  • Killer Whale
  • Melon-headed Whale
  • Minke Whale
  • Northern Right Whale
  • Pygmy Killer Whale
  • Pygmy Sperm Whale
  • Risso's Dolphin
  • Rough-toothed Dolphin
  • Short-finned Pilot Whale
  • Sperm Whale
  • Spotted Dolphin



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