Strap-toothed Whale
Mesoplodon layardii

Other Names: Layard's Beaked Whale, Strap-tooth Beaked Whale

Habitat: Offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Unknown

Group Size: 1-3

Fin Position: Far behind Center

Newborns: c. 8 - 9 ft (2.5-3 m), Unknown weight

Adults: 16 - 20 ft (5-6.2 m), c.1-3 tons

Diet: Squid or octopus

Teeth: 0 on top row, 2 on bottom row


Dorsal fin:

- low, falcate or triangular dorsal fin


- triangular-shaped flukes
- no notch in middle
- pointed tips
- gray leading edges of flukes


- small, narrow flippers


- long teeth, sometimes seaweed attached
- sloping forehead with slightly bulging melon
- black "face mask"
- Older Male (head on):
- both teeth curl over upper jaw and meet in middle
- mouth cannot open properly

Jawbone (male):

- backward-tilting teeth 12 in (30 cm) or more from tip of jaw


- dark areas paler than an adult
- light and dark pattern same as on adult, but in reverse

Other characteristics:

- predominantly bluish black body, but may be dark purplish brown
- spindle -shaped body
- considerable body scarring
- white or gray oval patch, with 2 forward-pointed extensions
- areas of white and gray may be yellowish, especially after death


- rarely seen in the wild
- may bask at the surface on calm, sunny days, but generally hard to approach, especially in large vessels
- flukes do not normally show above the surface at start of dive
- limited observations suggest that it sinks slowly beneath the surface, barely creating a ripple, then rises and blows again 490-655 ft (150-200 m) away; or it dives with a characteristic sideways roll, showing a single flipper above the surface, and reappears some distance away
- typically dive time is 10 to 15 minutes
- believed to break the surface first with its beak and then head when rising to breathe
- scarring suggests fighting between males


- cold temperate waters of the southern hemisphere, from the Antarctic Convergence to about 30 S
- the most commonly reported Mesoplodon in the southern hemisphere: there have been approximately 150 strandings and probable sightings in total
- known mainly from New Zealand and Australia, including Tasmania, but also records from South Africa, Namibia, the Falkland Islands, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay
- population size unknown, but believed to be reasonably common within its range

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet