Hector's Beaked Whale
Mesoplodon hectori

Other Names: New Zealand Beaked Whale, Skew-beaked Whale

Habitat: Unknown

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Unknown

Group Size: Unknown (possibly pairs)

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: c.6 ft (2 m), Unknown weight

Adults: 13 -14 ft (4-4.5 m), c.1-2 tons

Diet: Squid or octopus

Teeth: 0 on top row, 2 on bottom row


Dorsal fin:

- small, triangular dorsal fin
- rounded tip
- slightly concave trailing edge)


- gray upper sides; white undersides in males only
- no notch in adult flukes (young animals have slight notch in middle)


- short flippers
- parallel trailing and leading edges of flippers


- smallish head
- relatively short, pale gray or white beak
- teeth may have stalked barnacles attached
- slight melon
- distinctive crescent-shaped blowhole

Jawbone (Male):

- small, triangular teeth set near tip of jaw

Other characteristics:

- body covered in scratches and sometimes oval scars, especially in males
- dark gray or brownish gray back and upper sides
- narrow tail stock
- white area often surrounds navel
- spindle-shaped body
- pale gray or white underside


- with only 2 probable sightings, there is little information on behavior
- this species may be unusual for a Mesoplodon because, in both sightings, one of the animals seemed inquisitive and actually approached the boat
- if this is normal behavior, it seems strange that there have not been more sightings (unless this species is rare)
- pairs may be the typical group size, although there is a theory that the animals seen in California belonged to a larger group
- body scarring suggests there may be extensive fighting between males


- cool temperate waters of the southern hemisphere and possibly the eastern North Pacific
- known mainly from the southern hemisphere, south of the tropic of Capricorn, where it appears to have circumpolar distribution
- most records are from New Zealand, but there are also reports from Falkland Sound, Falkland Islands; Lottering River, South Africa; Adventure Bay, Tasmania; and Tierra del Fuego, in southern South America
- the 4 California strandings occurred in 1975, 1978, and 1979
- these and 2 probable sightings took place over a 5-year period, and all were within the same small region of southern California
- as a result, there is uncertainty about the species' normal occurrence in the North Pacific, as the California animals may simply represent a small group of strays
- alternatively, its range may be even larger and could also include other northern temperate waters

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet