Cuvier's beaked whale
|Cuvier's beaked whale|
|Size comparison against an average human|
|Cuvier's beaked whale range|
Cuvier's beaked whale or goose-beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), the only member of the genus Ziphius, is the most widely distributed of all the beaked whales. It is pelagic and prefers depth greater than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and avoids ships but still is one of the most frequently spotted beaked whales.
The species name comes from Greek xiphos, "sword", and Latin cavus, "hollow" and rostrum, "beak", referring to the indentation on the head in front of the blowhole.
History of discovery
The French anatomist Georges Cuvier, in his treatise Sur les Ossemens fossiles (1823), first described the species based on an imperfect skull from the Mediterranean coast of France. It had been obtained by M. Raymond Gorsse in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, near Fos, in 1804 from a peasant who had found it on the seashore the previous year. Cuvier named it Ziphius cavirostris, the specific name being derived from the Latin cavus for "hollow" or "concave", in reference to the deep hollow (the prenarial basin) in the skull, a diagnostic trait of the species. Cuvier believed it to represent the remains of an extinct species. It wasn't until 1850 that zoologists realized the extant nature of the species, when Paul Gervais compared the type specimen to another that had stranded at Aresquiès, Hérault, in May of the same year, and found the two to be identical.
The body of Cuvier's beaked whale is robust and cigar-shaped, similar to those of other beaked whales and can be difficult to distinguish from many of the mesoplodont whales at sea. It grows up to about 5–7 m (16.4–23.0 ft) in length and weighs 2,500 kg (5,500 lb). There is no significant size difference between sexes.
Its dorsal fin is curved, small and located two-thirds of the body length behind the head. Its flippers are equally small and narrow and can be tucked into pockets in the body wall, presumably to prevent drag while swimming. Like other beaked whales, its flukes are large and lack the medial notch found in all other cetaceans. The head is short with a small, poorly defined rostrum and a gently sloping melon. A pair of throat grooves allow the whale to expand this region when sucking in its prey.
Cuvier's beaked whale has a short beak in comparison with other species in its family, with a slightly bulbous melon. The melon is white or creamy in color and a white strip runs back to the dorsal fin about two-thirds of the way along the back. The rest of the body color varies by individual: some are dark grey; others a reddish-brown. Individuals commonly have white scars and patches caused by cookiecutter sharks. The dorsal fin varies in shape from triangular to highly falcate, whilst the fluke is about one-quarter the body length. They live for forty years.
Food and foraging
Cuvier's beaked whale feeds on several species of squid, including those in the families Cranchiidae, Onychoteuthidae, Brachioteuthidae, Enoploteuthidae, Octopoteuthidae and Histioteuthidae; they also prey on deep-sea fish.
Range and habitat
Cuvier's has a cosmopolitan distribution in deep, offshore waters from the tropics to the cool temperate seas. In the North Pacific, it occurs as far north as the Aleutians and in the North Atlantic as far north as Massachusetts in the west to the Shetlands in the east. In the Southern Hemisphere, it occurs as far south as Tierra del Fuego, South Africa, southern Australia, New Zealand, and the Chatham Islands. It also frequents such inland bodies of waters as the Gulfs of Mexico and California and probably also the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.
Cuvier’s beaked whale may be one of the most common and abundant of the beaked whales, with a worldwide population likely well over 100,000. There are estimated to be about 80,000 in the eastern tropical Pacific, nearly 1,900 off the west coast of the United States (excluding Alaska), and over 15,000 off Hawaii. 
Japanese whalers in the past opportunistically caught Cuvier's, taking between 3 and 35 each year (before 1955). The species has been reported taken incidentally in fisheries in Colombia, the Italian swordfish fishery, and in the drift gillnet fishery off the U.S. west coast, where between 22 and 44 individuals died each year off California and Oregon from 1992 to 1995. Cuvier's beaked whale is covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS). The species is further included in the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU).
Beaked whales may also be sensitive to noise. A higher incidence of strandings has been recorded in noisy seas such as the Mediterranean. Multiple mass strandings (beachings) have occurred following operations by the Spanish Navy.
- Grzimek 2003, p. 66
- "Cuvier's Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris)". NOAA. December 2012. Retrieved February 2013.
- MarineBio 2013
- Cuvier 1823
- Turner 1872
- Heyning 2002
- Evans 1987, p. 137
- Reeves et al. 2002
- Taylor et al. 2008
- Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas
- Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
- Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region
- Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia
- "Lethal Sounds: The use of military sonar poses a deadly threat to whales and other marine mammals". NRDC. June 2006. Retrieved February 2013.
- Carwardine, Mark; Camm, Martin (2000). Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7513-2781-6.
- Cuvier, Georges (1823). Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles (in French) 5.1 (2nd ed.). Paris. pp. 350–2, fig. 7. Retrieved February 2013.
- Evans, Peter GH (1987). The Natural History of Whales and Dolphins. New York: Facts on File Publications. ISBN 0816017328. OCLC 14271801.
- Heyning, John E (2002). "Cuvier's Beaked Whale". In Jefferson, Thomas A. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 305–7. ISBN 0-12-551340-2.
- "Cuvier's Beaked Whales, Ziphius cavirostris". MarineBio Conservation Society. 2013. Retrieved February 2013.
- Grzimek, Bernhard (2003). Hutchins, Michael; Kleiman, Devra G.; Geist, Valerius et al., eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol 15, Mammals IV (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. ISBN 0-7876-5362-4.
- Reeves, Randall R; Stewart, Brent S; Clapham, Phillip J; Powell, James A (2002). National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 254. ISBN 0375411410.
- Taylor, BL; Baird, R; Barlow, J; Dawson, SM; Ford, J; Mead, JG; Notarbartolo di Sciara, G; Wade, P; Pitman, RL (2008). "Ziphius cavirostris". IUCN. Retrieved February 2013.
- Turner, W (1872). "On the occurrence of Ziphius cavirostris in the Shetland Seas, and a comparison of its skull with that of Sowerby’s whale (Mesoplodon Sowerbyi)". Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Edinburgh) 26 (4): 759–80. OCLC 26145032.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ziphius cavirostris.|
- Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)
- Cuvier's Beaked Whale - The Beaked Whale Resource
- Cuvier's Beaked Whale - ARKive bio
- MNZ MM002092, collected Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 14 October 1988