Ginkgo Toothed Beaked Whale

Scientific Name: Mesoplodon ginkgodens
Other Names: Ginkgo Beaked Whale, Japanese Beaked Whale

There is not much known about the Ginkgo-Toothed Beaked Whale. Its name hails from the Japanese Ginkgo Tree, which has leaves that very much resemble the shape of the male whale’s teeth. These wide, fan-shaped teeth measure up to 10 centimetres (or four inches); the widest of all the Mesoplodon teeth. There are only two teeth in the bottom jaw, and none in the top.

Physical Characteristics

Image of a drawing of Ginkgo Toothed Beaked Whale head

Drawing of Ginkgo Toothed Beaked Whale head showing the tooth.
Credit: painting by Sandra Doyle/Wildlife Art Ltd. from Kays and
Wilson’s Mammals of North America, © Princeton University Press (2002).

The robust body is a uniform colour – blue-black in males and a medium-grey in females. Males usually have white blotches around the navel. However, these are believed to be parasitic scars, rather than pigment colouration. These whales have little or no scarring on the body.

The small dorsal fin is situated far behind the centre of the body and is usually pointed with a hooked tip. Small, narrow pectoral fins and a broad, flat fluke add to the robust look of the animal. There is no notch in the tail of the Ginkgo-Toothed Beaked Whale.

The lower jaw bulges in the vicinity of the two teeth in the males.

Adult Ginkgo-Toothed Beaked Whales measure between 4.7 and 5.2 meters, which equals about 15 to 17 feet. They usually weigh between 1.5 and two tonnes.

This whale species is very rarely seen, and so little is known about their behaviour. Due to the fact that there is little scarring on their bodies, they are believed not to be particularly aggressive. However, they may be aggressive without using their teeth, so this is not a confirmed fact.

Where to Find Them
The distribution of the Ginkgo-Toothed Beaked Whale is only known based on strandings. These strandings have occurred mainly in the North Pacific, especially on the coast of Japan. They seem to prefer the deep, temperate waters of the world.

Both males and toothless females feed on squid and fish.

Because so little is known about these whales, the threats to them are also unknown, as is their population number.

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