Gervais’ Beaked Whale

By 18/04/2020Mammals

Also known as the Antillean Beaked Whale, Gervais’ Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon europaeus) are one the largest species of the Mesoplodon genus but still little is known about them.


Photo credit: Sergio Hanquet.


  • Latin name : Mesoplodon europaeus
  • Suborder : Odotonceti
  • Family: Ziphiidae
  • Length : up to 6 meters
  • Weight : up to 1.2 tons
  • Dive time : up to 60 minutes
  • Dive depth: up to 1000 meters
  • IUCN Status: Data deficient




Color: Dark to brownish grey on the back, and lighter flanks and belly. Dark patch around the eyes.
Head: Rounded melon relatively flat top with a shallow slope into the short beak.
Fins: Small, wide-based and triangular to falcate dorsal fin.
Teeth: A pair of teeth located on the lower jaw about one-third of the way from the tip of the beak (mature males).


Adult male with teeth visible. Some scars from interactions with other males are also evident. Source: National Geographic.




Gervais’ Beaked Whales mainly feed on different species of squids. The occasionally eat fish and crustaceans (e.g., deep sea shrimp). Prey is captured by suction feeding.



Sexual maturity is reached at the length of 5 meters. At birth, calves measure around 2 meters in length. Very little is known about their reproduction.



Often seen in small group of 3-4 individuals or by pairs. Scarring is typical especially among males due to aggressive social behaviors. Breaching behavior has been documented.


Photo credit: Conor Ryan.


Poorly known, they probably use echolocation to locate the prey during deep dives and remain relatively silent in proximity of the surface to avoid predators.


Top cover illustrations by Uko Gorter. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals IIIrd Ed. Bernd Würsig, I. G. M. Thewissen & KIT M. Kovacs.

About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide and is responsible for Science Education at TERRA AZUL. Originally from France, she studied in Canada and Belgium and loves being out to sea to share her knowledge with you.