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


Description

Dorsal fin:

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

Flukes:

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

Flippers:

- short flippers
- parallel trailing and leading edges of flippers

Head:

- 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


Behavior

- 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


Distribution

- 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

Return To Gulf of Mexico Species
Return To Cetaceans of the World

e-mail suggestions or questions to
tmmsn@sci.tamucc.edu

This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet