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Home / News / General / Hawaii’s cetaceans

Hawaii’s cetaceans

By: Denver Leaman

Blainville's Beaked Whale



Blainville’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris)
Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Ziphiidae
Occurs in Hawaiian waters.

Other known names:

Atlantic beaked whale, Dense beaked whale, Tropical beaked whale

Identity keys to use in the field:

Streamlined body, Two blowholes, Throat grooves, Pointed flippers, Blue-gray skin color, Sickle-shaped dorsal fin, Flukes rarely seen above the surface, Broad flukes, May approach boats.

General description and habits:

The male Blainville's beaked whale is very odd looking. They have a pair of massive teeth protruding from bulges on the lower jaw that may become encrusted with barnacles. The females’ teeth do not erupt but they still have the bulges on the jaw. Both sexes are dark bluish gray and may darken with age. The underside is lighter in color and there are tan or grayish white blotches all over the body. They are often highly scarred, with circular scars being made by cookie-cutter sharks. They have unusually small flippers for such a large animal. When they are born, Blainville's beaked whales are between 1.9 and 2.6 meters (6ft 3in and 8 ft 6in) long. Adults are between 4.5 and 6 meters (14ft 9in - 19ft 9in). Blainville's beaked whales weigh only about 60kg (130lb) when they are born, but they can weigh about 1 tonne (2205 lb) when they are full grown. Blainville's beaked whales perform short dive sequences at 15-20 second intervals followed by deep dives of up to 45 minutes duration. On surfacing the beak points skyward. After taking a breath, the beak is sometimes slapped on the surface and the animal may roll slightly before disappearing. Their blow or spout is small but can be seen on a clear day to project forward.

Identity keys to use in the field:

Flat forehead, Thick long beak, Two enormous teeth, Bulge on jaw, Single blowhole, Blue-gray skin color, Pale blotches, Lighter ventral surface, Dives for long periods, Triangular dorsal fin, White scratches and scars, Long & spindle-shaped body.

Diet:

Squid and occasional fish.

Distribution:

These animals have the widest distribution of all beaked whales with small schools sighted in Hawaii. Typical of all beaked whales, Blainville's beaked whales prefer deep waters. This whale may be the most pelagic species of the beaked whale family. They seem to avoid polar areas.

Population estimates:

Although they are one of the most common members of the family, sightings of Blainville's beaked whales are rare. This is probably because it prefers to be out in deep water away from land. The population size is unknown.

Threats:

Environmental changes.

Interesting facts:

The jawbone of Blainville's beaked whale has a greater density than elephant ivory. This gives rise to one of its names; the dense-beaked whale.

pagelinks.tpl
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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