Image of Humbacked Whale under water

 

PYGMY BEAKED WHALE

Scientific Name: Mesoplodon peruvianus
Other Names: Lesser Beaked Whale, Peruvian Beaked Whale

Because fewer than 20 specimens of the Lesser Beaked Whale have been found, and a very limited number of sightings have ever occurred, this species remains somewhat mysterious to researchers and scientists. The first specimens were found in the form of unfamiliar skulls at two Peruvian fish markets in South America. Then, in the late 1980’s, a full male specimen was found washed up on the beach near Lima. Although this was integral to identifying and learning a little more about the Pygmy Beaked Whale, the information available remains somewhat vague.


Drawing of a Pygmy Beaked Whale.

Physical Characteristics.

The short, spindle-shaped body is predominantly dark grey, becoming almost black near the tail stock. This fades to a lighter grey on the underside, from the chin to the navel. The flippers, including the pectoral ones, are dark. Its beak is short and its head narrow, creating a sloping profile.

The bottom jaw has two very small teeth, which are not visible when the animal closes its mouth.

The dorsal fin is small and triangular with a wide base. There is a big tail stock leading to a fluke, or tail fin, which has slightly pointed edges. There is no central notch in the tail.

An adult Pygmy Beaked Whale reaches about 3.5 metres (or between 11 and 12 feet) in length. Their weight is unknown.

Behaviour
Although only one animal has been stranded at a time (implying that they travel alone), the few sightings that there have been have usually been of a pair of Pygmy Beaked Whales. When individuals were spotted in the open, they were trusting, allowing the boat to approach them. They do not have a very conspicuous blow, making them that much more difficult to identify at sea.

Where to Find Them
Based only on the strandings and the rare sightings of this elusive whale, it appears that it occupies only the mid- to deep waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. They appear to stick relatively close to the shore of Peru, Baja California and Mexico.

Diet
Having only two very tiny teeth on their bottom jaws, the Pygmy Beaked Whale is not built for the hunt. They will feed mainly on small fish. However, where available, they will also likely dine on small crustaceans and soft, easily digested squid.

Threats
Due to the fact that the Pygmy Beaked Whale has such a limited known habitat, the threats that they face are somewhat reduced. However, fishing nets always pose a problem, as these whales may easily become entangled in the nets. Unable to free themselves and head to the surface for air, they soon drown.

For more information, please go here: http://marinebio.org