Shepherd.s Beaked Whale
Tasmacetus shepherdi


Other Names: Tasman Whale, Tasman Beaked Whale

Habitat: Offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Unknown

Group Size: Unknown

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: c.9 ft (3 m), unknown weight

Adults: 19 -23 ft (6-7 m), c.2-3 tons

Diet: Fish

Teeth: 34-42 on top row, 46-56 on bottom row


Description

Dorsal fin:

- small, slightly falcate dorsal fin
- dark-colored dorsal fin

Flukes:

- pointed tips
- no notch in middle
- fairly straight or slightly concave trailing edges
- flukes dark on both sides

Flippers:

- small, dark, narrow flippers

Head:

- top of head may be lighter than upper side of body
- steep, rounded forehead
- long, narrow beak with pointed tip
- straight mouth line

Jawbone (male):

- small, conical teeth occur in upper and lower jaws of both sexes
- lower jaw contains 2 longer teeth at tip (erupt only in males)

Other characteristics:

- dark brownish black upper side
- robust, spindle-shaped body
- 2 light diagonal stripes on each side (variable)
- creamy white underside
- light patch above flippers continuous with pale underside


Behavior

- almost nothing known, probably a deep diver
- limited evidence from analysis of one whale.s stomach contents suggest that, unlike most other beaked whales, it eats mainly fish rather than squid (this could explain why it has a full set of teeth)
- one possible sighting in New Zealand suggest an indistinct blow
- lack of sightings may be due to inconspicuous behavior, or rarity, or both


Distribution

- cold temperate waters of the southern hemisphere, predominately New Zealand
- until 1970, all records were from New Zealand, but strandings have seen been recorded in Australia, Chile, Argentina, and Tristen de Cunha in the South Atlantic
- most records between 33S and 50S and, even now, more than half are from Zealand
- may be circumpolar, but too little information to be certain; has not yet been recorded in South Africa but prefers cold water, so may well be sighted in the cold Benguela Current off the western coast
- too few records to make assumptions about seasonal movements
- probably lives mainly far offshore, well away from coasts; however, where there is a narrow continental shelf, may sometimes occur in deep water close to shore



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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet