Beaked whales are found offshore in deep waters. There are many species in the Northern Pacific ocean; these are the most frequently encountered. Because they avoid vessels are are found far from shore, few sighting reports of beaked whales exist for British Columbia.
- Baird’s beaked whale: up to 13 m (about the size of a grey whale)
- Cuvier’s beaked whale: up to 7 m (about the size of a female killer whale)
- Stejneger’s and Hubb’s beaked whales: up to 5 m
- Baird’s beaked whale: dark brown, with irregular white patches on the belly
- Cuvier’s beaked whale: orange brown, with a white head and small white patches
- Stejneger’s beaked whale: dark, with light coloration around the lower jaw and eyes; prominent triangular tooth may be seen
- Hubb’s beaked whales: dark, with light coloration around both jaws and a white mound above the eye; a triangular tooth may be seen
- the dorsal fins of beaked whales are typically small, triangular and very far back on the animal’s body
- Cuvier’s beaked whales’ dorsal fins are more curved (falcate) like that of a dolphin
- small and bushy, difficult to see from afar
- rarely seen above the surface, although may occasionally lift their heads slightly out of the water
Group size / social behaviour
- usually found in tight groups of 5-20 animals, very close to one another
- beaked whales have teeth that emerge from their lower jaw
- most individuals (especially males) are heavily scarred due to male competition
Can be confused with
- large size and coloration of Baird’s beaked whales is comparable with minke whales, but Baird’s beaked whales have a pointed beak, no baleen, and are typically found in groups.
- smaller beaked whales may be confused with pilot whales or large dolphins.
- beaked whales have no teeth apart from one or two pairs in the lower jaw that usually erupt only in adult males, which use them for fighting and establishing dominance
- beaked whales are deep-diving animals that forage on deep sea squids; they capture their prey by sucking them into their mouths
- scientists believe there are still some species of beaked whales that have not yet been discovered