Beaked whales (systematic name Ziphiidae) are a family of cetaceans noted as being one of the least known groups of mammals because of their deep-sea habitat and apparent low abundance. Only three or four of the 24 species are reasonably well-known. Baird's beaked whales and Cuvier's beaked whales were subject to commercial exploitation, off the coast of Japan, while the northern bottlenose whale was extensively hunted in the northern part of the North Atlantic late in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Reports emerged in late 2020 of the possible discovery of a new beaked whale species off the coast of Mexico, the taxonomy of which had not been determined as of December 2020.
The family Ziphiidae is one of the most widespread families of cetaceans, ranging from the ice edges at both the north and south poles, to the equator in all the oceans. Specific ranges vary greatly by species, though beaked whales typically inhabit offshore waters that are at least 300 m deep.
Beaked whales are known to congregate in deep waters off the edge of continental shelves, and bottom features, such as seamounts, canyons, escarpments, and oceanic islands, including the Azores and the Canary Islands, and even off the coasts of Hawaii.