Blainville's Beaked Whale

Blainville's Beaked Whale

Dense-beaked whale

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Infraorder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Mesoplodon densirostris
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
27 yrs
WEIGHT
800-1000 kg
LENGTH
4.4-4.6 m

Blainville's beaked whales have long and narrow bodies. The melon of these whales is flat and hardly noticeable. They have a long beak, a pair of throat grooves which are located under the lower jaw, a small falcate dorsal fin, and a thick rostrum. Coloration is dark blue/gray on top and lighter gray on the bottom, and the head is usually brownish. Males have scars on their bodies and cookie cutter shark bites typical of the genus.

Distribution

Blainville's beaked whales are found in all oceans. Strandings have occurred off Nova Scotia, Iceland, the British Isles, Japan, Rio Grande do Sul, South Africa, central Chile, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The most common observations take place off Hawaii, the Society Islands, and the Bahamas. These whales occur in tropical and temperate waters and prefer depths from 700 to 1000 meters.

Blainville's Beaked Whale habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Blainville's beaked whales are usually seen in groups of 3-7 individuals. They dive primarily to forage for food, diving more than 800 meters deep. It is thought that foraging at these depths helps to avoid predators, such as large sharks or Killer whales. Blainville's beaked whales forage during the day and night. Because these beaked whales almost exclusively vocalize while on their dives, it is believed that they are using sound to help their foraging. However, while on their dives they will produce whistles which are most commonly known for communication. This has left the true meaning of the Blainville's beaked whales vocalization a mystery.

Lifestyle
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Blainville's beaked whales are carnivorous. They feed primarily on squid, fish and other invertebrates.

Mating Habits

BABY CARRYING
1 calf
FEMALE NAME
cow
MALE NAME
bull
BABY NAME
calf

Little is known about the mating system and reproductive behavior of Blainville's beaked whales. It is suggested that these beaked whales form harems. These harems consist of several females and a single dominant male. Females are known to give birth to a single calf. These whales reach reproductive maturity is 9 years of age.

Population

Population threats

Accidental hunting and chemical pollution are main threats to these whales. Climate change and noise are further threats to this species. The use of sonar from military vessels has caused mass strandings of Blainville’s beaked whales.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Blainville's beaked whales is unknown. However, it is estimated 2,138 whales in Hawaiian waters. Currently, Blainville's beaked whales are classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the list of threatened species.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The French zoologist Henri de Blainville first described these whales in 1817 from a small piece of jaw. That was the heaviest bone he had ever come across and this resulted in the name densirostris (Latin for "dense beak").
  • Research has shown that Blainville's beaked whales typically fall silent above 170 meters. It is assumed that they do this in order to avoid Orcas from preying on them.
  • Blainville's beaked whales are among the longest and deepest divers of any cetacean. Their deepest documented dive is 1,599 meters.
  • Blainville's beaked whales can live in small cohesive groups and spend around 80% of their life in silence. While living in these groups individuals can be separated by hundreds of meters. It is believed that these whales will use their sound as a sensory cue in order to not be separated from their group.

References

1. Blainville's Beaked Whale on WIkipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blainville%27s_beaked_whale
2. Blainville's Beaked Whale on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/13244/3426474

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