Gervais’ Beaked Whale – Mesoplodon europaeus

European Gervais' Beaked Whale Species Canaries Canary Islands Atlantic Ocean Mesoplodon europaeus Tenerife Gran Canaria Fuerteventura Whale watching Lanzarote La Palma El Hierro Gomera
Gervais’ Beaked Whale – Mesoplodon europaeus

The Gervais’ Beaked Whale, also known as the European Beaked Whale, Antillian Beaked Whale or Gulf Stream Beaked Whale, belongs to the family of beaked whales and is therefore part of the infraorder of whales (Cetaceans). Mesoplodon europaeus was first described by Gervais in 1855.

Description, Anatomy & Characteristics

The Gervais’ Beaked Whale has a grey colouration, with the belly being somewhat lighter. The head is quite small and the melon only hinted at.

The females become up to 5.20m long, while males only 4.5m long. The maximum weight of Mesoplodon europaeus is at least 1.2t.

In addition, they have only two teeth, which are located in the lower jaw.

Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence

The Gervais’ Beaked Whale admittedly also has the colloquial name European Beaked Whale, occurs however predominantly at the east coast of America. Most sightings are from New York to Texas, but it is also often seen around several Caribbean islands. The southernmost sighting is known from Sao Paulo.

European Gervais' Beaked Whale Mesoplodon europaeus Map Distribution
Map with the distribution area.
By Alessio Marrucci – Own Work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In the eastern Atlantic they are spread from Ireland to Guinea-Bissau. There were also strandings on Ascencion. There is only one reported sighting that the species swam into the Mediterranean Sea.

It is speculated that the southern distribution reaches as far as Angola and Uruguay.

In any case, it prefers the tropical and subtropical zones of the Atlantic.

When diving in the Canary Islands it is almost impossible to observe them. On whale watching tours you also have to be very lucky as sightings of this species are very rare.

Biology & Feeding

Mesoplodon europaeus lives pelagically in pairs or small groups. By scars on backs and flanks of the males, one concludes on rival-fights.

The Gervais’ Beaked Whale feeds on Cephalopods, just like most other whales.

At a sighting in Tenerife, in 1998, 3 European Beaked Whales were observed swimming in 1500m deep water. At another sighting, in the south of Gran Canaria, the group remained only briefly at the surface and submerged for about one hour.

Sources & Links

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