Cuviers Beaked Whale
Whale Watching South Africa

© Larry Foster

Name : Cuvier's Beaked Whale
Scientific Name : Ziphius cavirostris
Class : Mammalia (Type) - Beaked whale
Family : Ziphiidae
Order : Cetacea (suborder) - Odontoceti
Shape : Cuviers Beaked Whale has a long, robust body. Two small teeth just visible when mouth closed and a indistinct beak (becomes less distinct with age). Short, upturned mouthline with 'goose beak' head shape. Creamy white or white forehead, beak, and chin with indentation behind blowhole. Swirling patterns typical of many animals.
Fins : Small, falcate dorsal fins (variable). Some fins are tall and highly falcate, some are low and triangular with nearly a straight trailing edge. Broad flukes; width up to one-quarter of body length and small flippers.
Length : Adults measure between 5.5 - 7 metres and newborns 2 - 3 metres.
Weight : Adults weigh between 2 - 3 tons and newborns 250 kg.
Colour : There is so much colour variation and scarring that no two look alike. The colour varies according to location, sex, or age. Older animals can be so white that they may be confused with Belugas or Risso's Dolphins. Body colour varies from tan, pale brown, or cream to blue-grey or purplish black (may appear reddish in bright sunlight) with white or cream-coloured blotches and circular scars, mainly on underside and sides.
Diet : Feeds on deep-sea fish and squid.
Population : Unknown.
Migration : No migrations are known.
Habits : Cuviers Beaked Whale is found stranded more often that most other beaked whales and appears to be one of the most widespread and abundant of the beaked whales, although it is generally inconspicuous and rarely seen at sea. Usually alone (old males) or in small groups of 1 - 25.
Distibution : Worldwide distribution in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters. Rarely found close to mainland shores, except in submarine canyons or in areas where the continental shelf is narrow and coastal waters are deep.

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