Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Species Account/Ziphius cavirostris

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Ziphius cavirostris (Cuvier's beaked whale)

Where found: Open ocean worldwide except in the Arctic and Southern oceans.

Description: The Cuvier's beaked whale or goose-beaked whale is the most widely distributed of all the beaked whales. Individuals commonly have white scars and patches caused by cookiecutter sharks. It prefers depth greater than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and avoids ships, it is still one of the most frequently spotted beaked whales. The maximum known depth reached by the Cuvier's beaked whale is 2,992 metres (9,816 ft), or 1.8 miles, making it the deepest-diving mammal.

The species name comes from Greek xiphos, "sword", and Latin cavus, "hollow" and rostrum, "beak", referring to the indentation on the head in front of the blowhole. The body of Cuvier's beaked whale is robust and cigar-shaped, similar to those of other beaked whales and can be difficult to distinguish from many of the mesoplodont whales at sea. Males and females are the same size up to about 5–7 m (16–23 ft) in length 2,500 kg (5,500 lb).

The dorsal fin is curved, small and located two-thirds of the body length behind the head. Flippers are equally small and narrow and can be tucked into pockets in the body wall, presumably to prevent drag while swimming. Like other beaked whales, its flukes are large and lack the medial notch found in all other cetaceans. The head is short with a small, poorly defined rostrum and a gently sloping melon. A pair of throat grooves allow the whale to expand this region when sucking in its prey.

Cuvier's beaked whale has a short beak in comparison with other species in its family, with a slightly bulbous melon. The melon is white or creamy in color and a white strip runs back to the dorsal fin about two-thirds of the way along the back. The rest of the body color varies by individual: some are dark grey; others a reddish-brown. The dorsal fin varies in shape from triangular to highly falcate, whilst the fluke is about one-quarter the body length. They live for forty years.

Culvers beaked whale


Wal Cuviera.jpg