Description & Behavior

Perrin’s beaked whales, Mesoplodon perrini (Dalebout, Mead, Baker, Baker and van Helden, 2002), are similar to Hector’s beaked whales in appearance. The two species were thought to be the same until as recently as 2002 when genetic data was analyzed based on the 5 individuals found stranded along the coast of California (between 33°55’N, 117°15’W and 36°37’N, 121°55’W from May 1975 to September 1997). It is thought that Perrin’s beaked whales reach up to 4.5 m in length. The beaks of Perrin’s beaked whales are shorter than any other Mesoplodon’s, with the exception of Hector’s and pygmy beaked whales. Adult males have large triangular tusks visible in their lower jaws.

They are dark gray on the dorsal (upper) sides with whitish coloring on their ventral (under) sides. Adult males are also characterized by a white patch around their umbilicus (belly button) and a dark gray mask that extends from eye to eye. The ventral surface of the flukes have white striations.

Beaked Whales (Family Hyperoodontidae)
These medium-sized to moderately large whales have a single pair of grooves on their throats. They have distinct snouts, and often the few teeth present are only visible in adult males. They have a single nostril or blowhole. Beaked whales are generally slender with small dorsal fins toward the rear on their backs. The rear edge of their flukes (tails) 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 whales, are difficult to distinguish from each other, and study by museum experts is usually necessary for identification.

World Range & Habitat


The only Perrin’s beaked whales, Mesoplodon perrini, identified to date were found between southern and central California. Therefore, it is likely that this species is limited to the North Pacific Ocean.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Based on a limited sample of stomach contents of Perrin’s beaked whales, this species feeds primarily on squids.

Life History

No available data.

Conservation Status & Comments

No available data.

References & Further Research

Mesoplodon perrini – Society for Marine Mammalogy
Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation (CCRC) – Beaked whales (+ videos)
Dalebout, M. L. 2002. Species identity, genetic diversity, and molecular systematic relationships among the Ziphiidae (beaked whales). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Dalebout, M. L., J. G. Mead, C. S. Baker, A. N. Baker, and A. L. Van Helden. 2002. A new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon perrini sp. n. (Cetacea) discovered through phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Marine Mammal Science 18:577-608.
Pitman, R. L. 2002. Mesoplodont whales Mesoplodon spp. Pp. 738-742 in W. F. Perrin, B. Würsig and J. G. M. Thewis

Research Mesoplodon perrini @
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