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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Blainville's Beaked Whale
Order Cetacea : Family Ziphiidae : Mesoplodon densirostris (Blainville)

Blainville's Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris).  Illustration by Pieter A. Folkens.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 A. Folkens.