Common Name: Cuvier’s Beaked Whale
General Description: A V-shaped pair of throat grooves, a characteristic of beaked whales, is present. The flippers are small, and the high dorsal fin may be sickle-shaped or triangular. The rear margin of the flukes is slightly concave.
Colouration is variable between individuals, the back being dark rust brown, slate grey or fawn coloured. The belly is usually lighter. The head, especially in older males, is paler and almost completely white. Linear light scars are usually found on the back and sides, as are white or cream-coloured oval blotches on the belly and sides. Juveniles tend to be lighter than their parents.
Size: Adults, Cuvier’s Beaked Whale may grow to a length of 7.5 m and weigh three tons. However, weights of 5.6 tons for males and 6.5 tons for females have been reported. Calves at birth, 2.1 m long.
Appearance At Sea: Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is one of the commoner beaked whales. It was first described by Georges Cuvier from a skull found in Marseilles in 1804.
This species normally lives in extended family pods of around 15 individuals.Solitary males are sometimes seen.Cuvier’s Beaked Whales make deep dives lasting up to 30 minutes to find prey.The species has a low and inconspicuous spout, which projects slightly forward and to the left.
Found In: This is an animal of deep waters (around 1000 m or so). It is rarely found near the coast. They feed on squid, deep-water fish, crabs and starfish.
Records from India: There are two records of Cuvier’s Beaked Whale from India. One of these was a specimen washed ashore in the Lakshadweep Islands; the other was found at Porto Novo.
The species has stranded in Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In Sri Lanka it has been found in fishermen’s catches also. Sightings of the species have been made off the coasts of Sri Lanka and Oman.
World Distribution: Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is very widely distributed, being found in all but the highest latitudes in all oceans.
Could Be Confused With:There is a possibility of confusion with almost every other species of ziphid whale, but if the beak cannot be seen and the animals are found in large cohesive groups in warm water, then there is a chance of the whales being Cuvier’s Beaked Whales.
Diagnostic Features: At sea, Scooped appearance of the head; high, curved dorsal fin.
Stranded Specimens: A single pair of conical teeth is present at the tip of the lower jaw. These are large in males, but in females they are slender and pointed, and do not normally erupt.