Spade-Toothed Whale

Spade-Toothed Whale

Mesoplodon traversii
Population size
5-5.5 m

This cetacean is probably the least known whale on the planet. Spade-toothed beaked whale is currently an insufficiently explored species, since the animal has never been seen in the wild. All available information about this species comes from skeletal remains, consisting of two skulls and one jawbone. These remains suggest skull morphology, which is very similar to that of the strap-toothed beaked whale. The color of their skin is unknown. This animal is thought to be a medium sized beaked whale of 5.0 - 5.5 m (16 - 18 ft) in length. Males are likely to have 2 large tusks, which emerge half-way along their bottom jaw, curling up over the beak.



Biogeographical realms

Only three specimens of this species have ever been found by humans. The animals have been seen in New Zealand and Chile, suggesting that they live in the southern hemisphere. It is possible that their range is restricted to the South Pacific.

Spade-Toothed Whale habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Due to lack of observations in the wild, there is no information on habits of Spade-toothed whales.

Diet and Nutrition

Spade-toothed whales possibly have the same diet as other whales of their family, which consume fish, squid and different species of crustaceans.

Mating Habits


Currently, there is no information on reproductive behavior of this species due to lack of observations in the wild.


Population threats

As these animals have never been seen in the wild, a possible threat of poaching or hunting may be excluded. However, they may suffer from loud human-made sounds such as those produced by navy sonar and seismic exploration. Living in temperate waters, the Spade-toothed whales may be threatened by climate change, causing ocean warming, which in turn leads to reduction and modification of their natural range.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Spade-toothed whales is unknown for today. Currently, this species is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Spade-toothed whales are so called due to a part of their tooth, emerging from the gum and reminding the tip of a flensing spade, which was commonly used by whalers in the 19th century.
  • Eyes of these cetaceans are quite small for their body size since they primarily perceive the environment through their sense of hearing.
  • When swimming, whales move their tails up and down, while flippers allow them to make turns.
  • When on their migratory route, whales don't eat: they only swim and take short rests, until they get to their destination point. During migration, they occasionally swim close to the shoreline, and observers can see them breaching (this is when a whale jumps out of the water) and blowing.
  • Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville, is the most famous story about whales. The book features a whaler, who hunts for an elusive white sperm whale. As a matter of fact, a very rare albino sperm whale is sometimes called 'Moby Dick' just like the title character of the eponymous book.


1. Spade-Toothed Whale Wikipedia article -
2. Spade-Toothed Whale on The IUCN Red List site -

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