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Andrew's Beaked Whales, Mesoplodon bowdoini

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Description & Behavior

Andrew's beaked whales, Mesoplodon bowdoini (Andrews, 1908), aka Andrews' beaked whales, splay-toothed beaked whales, Bowdoin's beaked whales, and deepcrest beaked whales, measure up to 4.7 m in length and weigh 900–1,400 kgs. They are dark blue to almost black in color with a predominantly white beak. Their mouth line is characterized by a strong arch with teeth visible in the middle of the beak and their teeth curve outward. In this species, the teeth are wide and flat and are located at the top of their highly arched mouth line. In adult males, the teeth protrude outside the mouth, but not in females and juveniles. They have small dorsal fins and frilled edges on their flukes (tail fins). Andrew's beaked whales are believed to be the southern version of Hubb's beaked whales, Mesoplodon carlhubbsi.

Beaked whales are rarely seen at sea. They are believed to be shy and spend a lot of time underwater. Due to the fact that they are inconspicuous at the surface, they are hard to identify and are easily confused with other species. Very little is known about the behavior of Andrew's beaked whales.

Beaked Whales (Family Hyperoodontidae)
These medium-sized to moderately large whales have a single pair of grooves on the throat. There is a distinct snout, and often the few teeth present are visible only in adult males. They have a single nostril or blowhole. Beaked whales are generally slender with a small dorsal fin placed towards the rear on the back. The rear edge of the flukes (tail fins) usually lacks a well-defined notch. These whales are deep divers and are rarely seen. Many species are known only from a few specimens, and little is known about the life history and biology of the group. All members of this family, except Blainville's beaked whale, are difficult to distinguish from each other, and study by museum experts is usually necessary for identification.

World Range & Habitat

Andrew's beaked whales, Mesoplodon bowdoini, can be found offshore in the temperate waters of Australasia, in New Zealand, and along the southern coast of Australia. Little else is known about their distribution at this time though there are recent records from Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands, and Tierra del Fuego which indicates that they are likely to be circumpolar in southern ocean waters north of the Antarctic convergence.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Andrew's beaked whales primarily prey on squid and octopus. They are strong swimmers capable of deep dives in pursuit of their prey.

Life History

Life history information for Andrew's beaked whales is extremely limited due to the fact that sightings and stranded specimens are scarce. Females are thought to reach sexual maturity when they reach 4.3 m in length. It is unknown when males reach sexual maturity. Newborns are estimated to be 1.6 m long. Calves are suspected to be born from June to September, but this largely based on their limited sightings and strandings. It is likely that they have a low reproduction rate, only producing one offspring every three to four years.

Conservation Status & Comments

Current threats to Andrew's beaked whales are entanglement in drift nets, competition from commercial fisheries, and pollution. There is also extensive research being done on the negative effects of sonar used by the US Navy as well as commercial industries.

References & Further Research

Australian Government: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Mesoplodon bowdoini – Andrew's Beaked Whale. (July 26, 2009)
CMS: Mesoplodon bowdoini, Andrews' beaked whale
CMS: Genus Mesoplodon - Beaked whales: Introduction and Sources
Jefferson, T.A., S. Leatherwood, and M.A. Webber, FAO species identification guide, Marine mammals of the world, Rome, FAO. 1993. 320 p. 587 figs.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Marine Mammal Program - Beaked Whale Identification Guide
Baker, Alan N. 2001. Status, relationships, and distribution of Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrews 1908 (Cetacean: Ziphiidae). Marine Mammal Science 17 (3) pp. 473-493
MacLeod, Colin D. et al. 2006. Known and inferred distributions of beaked whale species (Cetacea: Ziphiidae). J. Cetacean Res. Manage. 7(3):271–286
Carwardine, M. (1995). Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises: The visual guide to all the world's cetaceans. New York: DK Publishing.
Reeves, R., Stewart, B., Clapham, P., Powell, J. National Audubon Society: Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. 2002. 286-287. New York: Knopf.

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