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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Cuvier's Beaked Whale Ziphius cavirostris

There are at least 20 species of beaked whales, but little is known about most of them. Cuvier’s beaked whale is probably one of the most widespread, because stranded specimens have been found in many parts of the world.

Like its relatives, Cuvier's beaked whale has an almost cylindrical body, a small dorsal fin placed far back, and relatively short flippers for its size. Its jaws are short and beaklike, with an upturned mouthline.

Female Cuvier's beaked whales are toothless, but in males, the lower jaw has two peglike teeth at its tip, which project when the mouth is closed. The overall color varies from gray and dark brown to yellow, with a swirling pattern of darker markings.

Cuvier’s beaked whale lives in deep water and can dive for more than half an hour. Its feeding behavior is poorly known, apart from the fact that it preys on squid and fish. It has never been hunted commercially, but it is occasionally an accidental bycatch in fishing nets, an occurrence that has become more common with the spread of deep-water trawling.

Cuvier’s Beaked Whalezoom image
  • Order Cetacea
  • Length 18–23 ft (5.5–7 m)
  • Weight Up to 3.3 tons (3 metric tons)
  • Habitat Deep water
  • Distribution Ropical, subtropical, and temperate waters worldwide, except in far north and south
Cuvier’s Beaked Whale habitat mapzoom image