Cuvier’s Beaked Whale – Ziphius cavirostris

Cuvier's Beaked Whale Ziphius cavirostris Tenerife Fuerteventura Gran Canaria species Whale watching Lanzarote La Palma gomera El Hierro Canary Islands Canaries Atlantic Ocean
Cuvier’s Beaked Whale – Ziphius cavirostris

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is part of the family of the beaked whales (Ziphiidae) and thus belongs to the infraorder of the whales (Cetaceans). Ziphius cavirostris got its name from the researcher Georges Cuvier, who first described the animal in 1823. A population in the Mediterranean Sea is so different from the rest of the species that it is thought to be a subspecies or even a species of its own.

Description, Anatomy & Characteristics

The beak of the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is shorter than with other representatives of its family. The colouring can be grey or brown and in rarer cases also cream-white or black copies occur. It has only two functional teeth in the lower jaw. Otherwise, all teeth are atrophied.

Ziphius cavirostris reaches a maximum size of up to 7m long and 3t of weight.

Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence

It is mainly found in the open sea, in areas of great depth. The species is rarely seen near the coast.

Cuvier's Beaked Whale Ziphius cavirostris Map Distribution
Map with the distribution area.
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The home of the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is the tropical, subtropical and temperate latitudes of all oceans. It is also regularly sighted in subpolar latitudes and inland seas.

When diving on the Canary Islands you can hardly ever observe it. Also on Whale watching trips it is rarely seen.

Feeding & Biology

Ziphius cavirostris feeds mainly on Cephalopods and deep-sea-fish. But also crabs and starfish are on their menu.

It is a social animal. Although males are also seen solitary, Ziphius cavirostris usually travels in groups of about 15 animals.

Off the coast of Southern California, dive depths of 2992m and dive times of 137 minutes have been measured. This is a record among marine mammals.

Sources & Links

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