Cuvier's Beaked Whale
Ziphius cavirostris

Other Names: Cuvier's Whale, Goose-beaked Whale, Goosebeak Whale

Habitat: Offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Unknown

Group Size: 1-10, lone individuals are usually old males

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: c.6 -9 ft (2-3 m),c.550 lb. (250 kg)

Adults: 18-23 ft (5.5-7 m), 2-3 tons

Diet: Squid or octopus and fish

Teeth: 0 on top row, 2 on bottom row


Dorsal fin:

- small, falcate dorsal fin (variable)
- some fins low and triangular
- may have nearly straight trailing edge
- some fins tall and highly falcate


- broad flukes; width up to one-quarter of body length
- slight notch in middle
- concave trailing edges


- small flippers

Jawbone (male):

- heavy lower jaw, with 2 conical teeth at tip

Other characteristics:

- indistinct beak (becomes less distinct with age)
- creamy white or white forehead, beak, and chin
- indentation behind blowhole
- upper side of old males can be almost white in front of dorsal fin
- swirling patterns typical of many animals
- long, robust body
- white or cream-colored blotches and circular scars, mainly on underside and sides
- body color varies from tan, pale brown, or cream to blue-gray or purplish black (may appear reddish in bright sunlight)
- long, white scars on sides and upper side
- 2 small teeth just visible when mouth closed


- normally avoids boats but is occasionally inquisitive and approachable, especially around Hawaii
- breaching has been observed, though probably rare: body rises almost vertically and comes completely out of water before falling back awkwardly
- blow directed slightly forward and to left but is low and inconspicuous; may be visible immediately after a long dive
- dives typically last 20 to 40 minutes, possibly 2 to 3 blows 10 to 20 seconds apart in between
- animal seems to lurch through the water and may expose head when swimming fast; there is usually a good view of the dorsal fin
- arches its back steeply before a deep dive and may lift flukes above the surface
- found stranded more often than most other beaked whales


- worldwide distribution in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters
- distribution known mainly from large number of strandings, with relatively small number of sightings
- it seems to be one of the most cosmopolitan of beaked whales, with a very broad range in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
- absent only from polar waters (in both hemispheres)
- known around many oceanic islands, and relatively common in enclosed seas such as the Mediterranean and Sea of Japan
- resident year-round in Hawaiian waters and several other areas; no migrations are known
- rarely found close to mainland shores, except in submarine canyons or in areas where the continental shelf is narrow and coastal waters are deep

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet