Grays Beaked Whale

Scientific Name: Mesoplodon grayi
Other Names: Scamperdown Whale, Southern Beaked Whale

The male Gray’s Beaked Whale is distinguished by a straight mouth-line, white beak and two triangular teeth that erupt out of the mouth and are visible from the outside. Both species have rows of fairly straight teeth, but the females’ teeth remain inside the mouth. The vestigial teeth in the upper jaw are embedded in the gum (as opposed to the bone).

There is little known about the Gray’s Beaked Whale.

Physical Characteristics

The Gray’s Beaked Whale has a slender, fusiform body with a proportionally small head and long beak. Short pectoral flippers are wide, as is the pointed tail fin, or fluke. The tail has a flat trailing edge with no notch in the centre. Their small dorsal fin has a concave trailing edge with a pointed tip.

Adult female Gray’s Beaked Whale Racecouse Beach Kioloa.

The body is dark on the upper-side (black, blue-grey or brown-black) and pale grey or white beneath. The belly is also marked by little white or light yellow blotches, and the entire body is marked with long scars.

The Gray’s Beaked Whale might be social, a theory based on very little evidence. This is rather unusual for beaked whales. There have been so few sightings of this whale, but they have been shown to be more conspicuous at the surface of the water than other beaked whales. Some have been seen breaching, lifting a small portion of their body out of the water. When they swim fast through the water, the Gray’s Beaked Whale will often leap out of the water in small arcs.

This whale species will usually travel in groups of between two and six individuals, but are also observed alone or in pods of up to 10.

Where to Find Them
The Gray’s Beaked Whale prefers the cool temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere. They have been stranded most often in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

Gray Beaked Whales feed almost exclusively on squid, which they seize and chew using their triangular, pointed teeth.

The threats to the Gray’s Beaked Whale remain unknown.

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