Cuvier’s Beaked Whale – Ziphius cavirostris
Habitat: Mainly deep waters, possibly favouring continental or island slopes at depths of 500 – 3000 m.
Description: Long, stout body with small head, concave or slightly s-shaped mouth line. Beak generally shorter than other beaked whale, ill-defined, with slightly protruding lower jaw. Single pair of conical teeth (up to 60 mm long) at tip of lower jaw, erupting only in adult males; second pair of teeth or small rudimentary teeth sometimes also present. Converging pair of throat grooves. Colouration is variable; commonly brownish grey but may be blue-grey to pale grey. Head and anterior back may even be white in older males. May have cream or white patches on sides, yellow diatoms in patches over body. Pale linear scars often present on back and sides.
Size: 5.5 – 5.8 m, females larger. Largest recorded 7 m.
Weight: Up to 3,000 kg.
Lifespan: >36 years in males, 30 years in females.
Distribution: >36 years in males, 30 years in females.
Diet & Feeding: Feeds mainly on a variety of squid, sometimes crustaceans and fish.
Breeding: Little information. No seasonal pattern found; gestation and lactation periods are unknown.
Conservation Status & Population: IUCN data deficient. No population estimates. Few specimens analysed for pollutants. Military sonar in mid frequency range causes mass strandings. Occasionally taken in fisheries for small cetaceans. Incidentally caught in many types of fisheries.
Not often seen. Most sightings are 1 – 12 individuals, occasionally up to 25. Second largest beaked whale in European waters. Small fin located in middle third of the back. Body is often pale. Sloping or slightly bulbous forehead with short, indistinct beak and upcurved mouth line – this is not easy to distinguish. May be confused with northern bottlenose whale.