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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Cuvier's Beaked Whale
Order Cetacea : Family Ziphiidae : Ziphius cavirostris G. Cuvier

Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris).  Illustration by Pieter A. Folkens.Description. A moderately small beaked whale with upperparts ranging in color from dark brown to lead gray or blackish in color; underparts paler, but not whitish; occasionally head and upper back whitish; beak moderately prominent and the forehead rising rather sharply; lower jaw longer than upper; pectoral fin relatively small and the dorsal fin placed on posterior third of body; prominent keel extends from dorsal fin to tail; skull with length of rostrum less than twice its breadth at notch; lower jaw of males with one large tooth (about 7 cm in length and 4 cm in diameter) at the tip; in females the teeth are small and seldom break through the gums so that the animal appears to be toothless; two converging grooves on throat. Total length of adults, 5-7 m. Weight, 2.5-4.5 metric tons.

Distribution in Texas. Sparsely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical waters of the world. In the western North Atlantic, these whales are found from Massachusetts to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Habits. Little is known of this whale beyond information revealed by stranded specimens. They are often observed in groups of 10-25. These whales are deep divers and may remain below water for 30 minutes or longer. They are known to eat squid, fish, crabs, and starfish.

The reproductive habits are almost unknown. There does not seem to be a distinct breeding season as calves are born year round. Calves are about 2.1 m long at birth. The length of gestation is unknown.

Illustration credit: Pieter A. Folkens.