Cuvier's Beaked Whale -- Cetacean Info at Whale Songs

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ziphius cavirostris

DISCOVERED: Cuvier, 1823

COMMON NAME: Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Goose-beaked Whale, Goosebeak Whale


* Worldwide distribution in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters
* One of the most worldly of beaked whales, including a range in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans
* Not found only in polar waters
* Found near many oceanic islands and in enclosed seas such as the Mediterranean and the Sea of Japan
* No migrations are known


* "Goose beak" head shape
* Short, upturned beak
* Small head-pale
* Long, robust body
* Indentation behind blowhole
* 2 small teeth just visible when mouth is closed
* Long and circular scars
* Small, falcate dorsal fin
* Swirling patterns in skin
* Upper side of old males can be almost white in front of dorsal fin
* Color varies according to location, sex, or age- older often are almost white
* Body vaires from tan, pale brown, or cream to blue-gray or purplish black
* Broad flukes- width up to one-quarter of body length



* Found close to mainland shores, except in submarine canyons or in areas where the continental shelf is narrow and coastal waters are deep


* Most prey are either open ocean, mesopelagic, or deep-water benthic organisms
* In waters less than 1,000m deep mainly consume squid
* In deep waters, fish most abundant prey


* Reach sexual maturity- 11 growth layer groups (GLGs) 5.26 m long (males) 5.12 m long (females)
* Live up to- 47 GLGs (males) and 28 GLGs (females)


* Lurches through water, exposing head when swimming fast
* Usually alone or in small groups
* Tends to avoid boats- but occasionally inquisitive and approachable
* Breaching observed, though rare
* Blow directed slightly forward and to left but is inconspicuous
* Typical length of dive - 20 to 40 minutes, with 2 to 3 blows 10 to 20 seconds apart in between
* Back arched steeply before a deep dive and may lift flukes above the surface
* Found stranded more than any other beaked whales


* No abundance estimates for any region
* Most frequent of the beaked whales as to number of strandings
* Most frequently sighted medium sized cetacean in the eastern tropical Pacific


* Formerly taken in Japan by small-type whaling operations- largely ceased, but occasional animal may still be caught
* Few taken in former small cetacean fishery off the Lesser Antilles island of St. Vincent
* No known systematic fisheries at present
* May be taken incidentally in offshore fisheries, but little available information on such occurrances
* Meat was used for human food in Japan and the Lesser Antilles
* Stranded specimens were used for dog and fox food in the Commander