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.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • 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

 

 

DESCRIPTION

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.

LIFE HISTORY

 

DIET

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.

 

REPRODUCTION

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.

 

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

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.

VOCAL BEHAVIOR

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.
Marylou

About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide at TERRA AZUL. She studied in Canada and Belgium, but is originally from France, and enjoys being out to sea everyday with whales & dolphins.

Your thoughts on this?