Adult Blainville’s beaked whales are blue-gray above and white below; coloration of young has not been properly described. The dark areas tend to have round or oval white scars and scratches.
The lower jaw of this species is highly arched; a massive flattened tusk erupts from the top of this arch in adult males, and it extends above the top of the upper jaw. In some individuals the tusks are covered by a tassel of barnacles.
Maximum size for both sexes appears to be around 4.7 m. Length at birth is presumed to be between 2 and 2.5 m. Weights of up to 1033 kg have been recorded.
Can be Confused With
Generally, only adult males of this species will be distinguishable from other other mesoplodonts. The high arching mouthline and massive flattened tusks that extend above the upper jaw will allow identification of bulls.
Blainville’s beaked whales occur in temperate and tropical waters of all oceans. Like other beaked whales, they are found mostly offshore in deep waters. This species has the most extensive distribution of any species of the genus.
Ecology and Behavior
Groups of 3-7 Blainville’s beaked whale have been recorded, although singles or pairs are most common. Dives of over 45 minutes have been recorded. There is a population of this species that is being well-studied in the Bahamas. Individual whales have been identified, based on natural marks.
Feeding and Prey
Squid are apparently the main food items, but some fish may be taken as well. Like other mesoplodonts, they are thought to be suction feeders.
Threats and Status
Some Blainville’s beaked whales have been taken incidentally by Japanese tuna boats off the Seychelles and western Australia, as well as directly by small cetacean hunters in various areas. Currently, this species is ‘Data Deficient’ (IUCN) and ‘Not Listed’ (ESA).
Dalebout, M.L. 2002. Species identity, genetic diversity, and molecular systematic relationships among the Ziphiidae (beaked whales). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Mead, J.G. 1989. Beaked whales of the genus Mesoplodon. pp. 349-430 in S.H. Ridgway and R. Harrison, eds. Handbook of marine mammals, Vol. 4: River dolphins and the larger toothed whales. Academic Press.
Pitman, R. L. 2002. Mesoplodont whales Mesoplodon spp. pp. 738-742 in W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig and J.G.M. Thewissen, eds. Encyclopedia of marine mammals. Academic Press.