ARNOUX’S BEAKED WHALE
By Amelia Meyer
Scientific Name: Berardius arnuxii
Other Names: Southern Giant Bottlenose Whale, Southern Four-toothed Whale, New Zealand Beaked Whale, Southern Beaked Whale, Arnux’s Beaked Whale, Southern Porpoise Whale.
There is little known about this elusive species of whale, which is often confused with (and even thought to be the same as) Baird’s Beaked Whale. Because so little is known about it, ascertaining its population numbers and, therefore, protection status has been impossible with modern technology and equipment. Interestingly, the Arnoux’s Beaked Whale is distinguished by its front teeth, which are visible even when the mouth is shut.
This whale species is dark brown or grey in colour and is known for the extensive scarring on its body. The underside may have some white or light markings on it. The female Arnoux’s Beaked Whale is generally larger than the male.
The melon is bulbous and the beak long, with a longer bottom jaw than top jaw. This gives it a typical dolphin look, although they are, obviously, considerably larger.
The dorsal fin of the Arnoux’s Beaked Whale is rounded and situated far down the back of the animal. It is very small. Its tail on the other hand is broad with slightly concave trailing edges. Although its tail is broad, this is a slow-swimming whale.
Adults measure approximately 7.8 to 9.7 metres in length (equivalent to between 25.5 and 31.75 feet) and weigh around seven to 10 tonnes.
The Arnoux’s Beaked Whale does not interact with or even make an appearance for human onlookers. Thus, it remains rather mysterious to most. This whale cruises slowly near the water’s surface. Although elusive, they are gregarious with one another. They travel in groups of about six to 10 individuals, but have been spotted in pods of up to 80. When they swim together, they keep a tight formation.
This whale species will blow about 15 times before diving beneath the water’s surface again. It will then only surface for air some 15 to 25 minutes later. When resurfacing, their beaks are usually the first parts of their body to exit the water, with their front teeth gleaming in the sunlight.
Where to Find Them
The areas in which these whales commonly live remains relatively unknown, but they are thought to live in the deep offshore waters of the Southern Hemisphere. Most strandings have occurred in New Zealand. Reported sightings have been most common in the Cook Strait, between the islands off the New Zealand coast.
They generally live close to the edges of pack-ice in summer and further out in the open water in winter.
The Arnoux’s Beaked Whale is a toothed whale and, therefore, a hunter. It lives mainly on squid and fish (both of the bottom-dwelling and open water varieties).
Because these whales are so widely dispersed and elusive, researchers and scientists have not yet ascertained what their major threats are.
For more information, please view: http://marinebio.org