|The Mammals of Texas -
Blainville's Beaked Whale
Cetacea : Family Ziphiidae : Mesoplodon
Description. A medium-sized whale that
reaches lengths of 4.6-4.9 m and weighs about 1 metric
ton. Slender in form; flippers short and set low on body;
dorsal fin present. Rostrum slender and pointed.
Coloration dark gray to black dorsally and somewhat
lighter ventrally. Typically mottled with grayish scars
left by parasites, squid "sucker marks," and
scratches incurred in intraspecific fighting. Males have
a single large tooth at the midpoint of each side of the
mandible. This tooth may be up to 20 cm in total length
and is imbedded in a large hump of supporting bone that
gives a high, arching contour to the lower jaw. Females
do not have so prominent a tooth and crested jaw.
Distribution in Texas. These
whales are uncommon residents of warm waters worldwide.
In the western North Atlantic they are rare but occur
from Nova Scotia to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Known
in Texas on the basis of a single individual stranded on
Padre Island on February 29, 1980.
Habits. Little natural history
information is available for these rare and secretive
whales. They are normally observed in small groups of
three to six and are known to feed on squid.
Sounds recorded from a young male
stranded in Florida were described as "chirps"
and "whistles." Sound spectrograms showed that
at least some of these sounds were pulsed, indicating
that echolocation by these whales may occur.
The reproductive habits of these whales
are completely unknown.
Illustration credit: Pieter