BLAINVILLE’S BEAKED WHALE
Scientific Name: Mesoplodon densirostris
Other Names: Tropical Beaked Whale, Atlantic Beaked Whale, Dense Beaked Whale
The most significant identifying feature of the Blainville’s Beaked Whale is, undoubtedly, the two large teeth that grow outwards from bulges in the lower jaw. Even when the mouth of the male is closed, these teeth are visible and rather prominent. Sometimes, these two teeth are almost completely encrusted with barnacles. Females have the bulges, but their teeth do not erupt out of the mouth.
Blainville’s Beaked Whale.
Despite having such characteristic features, these illusive animals are very rarely seen or recorded alive in the oceans. Most of what is known has been observed in stranded animals.
Notably, this whale has the densest bones in all of the animal kingdom.
The basal plates each form a separate baleen plate and are formed by several rows of papillae that have fused. The epidermal layer that covers the papillae, basal plates and spaces between the plates produces the horny matter that makes up the baleen plates.
The lower jaw of the Blainville’s Beaked Whale has a very distinct arch, which rises high enough to meet the flat forehead. The upper side of its body is dark blue-grey. The underside has a light patch, and there are tan or grey blotches all over the torso.
The dorsal fin is prominent, with a triangular or curved shape. The two flippers on the underside are small, and the fluke is broad and flat. There is no notch in the centre of the tail fin. In fact, in place of a notch, there is sometimes a bulge.
Adult Blainville’s Beaked Whales reach a length of about five or six metres (approximately 15 to 20 feet) and a weight of about one tonne.
These whales are not frequently seen, so its known behaviour is based on the very few sightings that there have been. In general, the Blainville’s Beaked Whale will dip below the surface at 15- to 20-second intervals. Then, it will dive deep down for between 20 and 45 minutes.
When they resurface, the beak appears first. After blowing out, the whale will often slap its snout on the water.
Blainville’s Beaked Whales travel alone or in pods of up to six animals, but have been observed in pods of as many as 12 individuals.
Where to Find Them
There have been sightings of Blainville’s Beaked Whales in areas dotted all over the world. However, they are known to live in the temperate and tropical waters around Hawaii and on the Atlantic Coast of the North America. There is a minor population of these animals living off of the South African coast.
The two prominent teeth are the only ones that this animal possesses; if they are even present at all. Therefore, this species sticks to soft squid and, sometimes, small fish, as it does not have a mouthful of teeth to use in feeding.
There are no known, significant threats to the Blainville’s Beaked Whale.
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