World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Gray's beaked whale

Article Id: WHEBN0000366395
Reproduction Date:

Title: Gray's beaked whale  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mesoplodont whale, Toothed whale, Cetacea, Cetaceans/article box, Spade-toothed whale
Collection: Animals Described in 1876, Cetaceans of Australia, Megafauna of Australia, Mesoplodont Whales
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Gray's beaked whale

Gray's beaked whale
Size compared to an average human
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Ziphiidae
Genus: Mesoplodon
Species: Mesoplodon grayi
Binomial name
Mesoplodon grayi
von Haast, 1876
Gray's beaked whale range

Gray's beaked whale (Mesoplodon grayi), sometimes known as Haast's beaked whale, the Scamperdown whale, or the southern beaked whale, is one of the better-known members of the genus Mesoplodon. This species is fairly gregarious and strands relatively frequently for a beaked whale. It is notable for being the only beaked whale, other than Shepherd's beaked whale (not a mesoplodont), that has upper teeth.[2]


  • Taxonomy 1
  • Description 2
  • Behavior 3
  • Population and distribution 4
  • Conservation 5
  • Specimens 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


The species was first described in 1876 by Julius von Haast, director of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand. He named it after the British taxonomist John Edward Gray, a zoologist at the British Museum. His description was based on three skulls he had received in May 1875 from a William Hood, Esq., who had retrieved them from three specimens that were part of a group of 28 individuals that had stranded on Waitangi Beach, Chatham Island, in the summer of 1874-75.[3]


Skeleton of Gray's beaked whale.

Gray's beaked whale is a fairly slender member of the genus. The melon on the whale bulges towards the blowhole and slopes down towards the beak. The beak itself is very long and pointed for a beaked whale, and has a relatively straight mouth line. In both sexes there are 17–22 rows of small teeth located towards the back of the mouth, which barely protrude past the gum. In males, there are two small, triangular teeth present halfway down the mouth. The overall coloration is dark on top and light below, and both sexes have a white beak. Females are lighter on top and have additional white marking near the genitals. Adult males often carry linear scars that probably result from fighting, and both males and females may display circular scars from cookiecutter shark bites.[4] M. grayi are 5.5 to 6.0 m (18.0 to 19.7 ft) long and weigh around 1,100 kilograms (2,400 pounds).[2] They are believed to be around 2.4 meters (7 feet 10 inches) long when born.


An adult female, one of five Gray's beaked whales stranded at Port Waikato, New Zealand

Gray's beaked whale is very gregarious. It has a tendency to strand in large groups, once involving 28 individuals. Other strandings involved five to eight animals. The upper teeth may be used in holding prey, but it is not clear why only this species has them.

Gray's beaked whale is said to be the most common species of whale to beach in New Zealand.[5] Two whales that stranded themselves on Opape Beach in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, in December 2010 were initially thought to be Gray's beaked whales, but later found to be the incredibly rare spade-toothed whale.[5]

Population and distribution

This species typically lives in the Southern Hemisphere between 30 and 45 degrees, and is typically observed at depths of 2,000 m (6,600 ft).[2] Many strandings have occurred off New Zealand, but others have happened off Australia, South Africa, South America, and the Falkland Islands. This species has been sighted in groups off the coast of Madagascar and in the Antarctic area. Oddly, one specimen stranded off the Netherlands, in a different hemisphere and several thousand miles away from all other strandings. No population estimates exist, but they are believed to be rather common.


These whales have not been hunted deliberately and they have not been entangled in fishing gear. Gray's beaked whale is included in the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU) and the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU)


  • MNZ MM002134 Gray's Beaked Whale Mesoplodon grayi, collected Black Reef, Cape Kidnappers, Hawke Bay, New Zealand, 18 March 1993.


  1. ^ Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. (2008). Mesoplodon grayi. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 24 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient.
  2. ^ a b c Wang, Arthur. "Mesoplodon grayi Gray's beaked whale". Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "On a New Ziphioid Whale. By Julius von Haast, Ph.D. F.R.S., Director of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand. Communicated by Prof. W. H. Flower, F. R.S." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (January, 1876), pp. 7-13.
  4. ^ Gray's Beaked Whale, Australian Museum. Updated 13 October 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  5. ^ a b Satherley, Dan (6 November 2012). "World's rarest whale stranded on NZ beach". 3 News NZ. 


  • Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Edited by William F. Perrin, Bernd Wursig, and J.G.M Thewissen. Academic Press, 2002. ISBN 0-12-551340-2
  • Sea Mammals of the World. Written by Randall R. Reeves, Brent S. Steward, Phillip J. Clapham, and James A. Owell. A & C Black, London, 2002. ISBN 0-7136-6334-0

External links

  • Factsheets - Gray's Beaked Whale
  • Cetaceans of the World
  • CMS
  • Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)
  • Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia.
  • Official webpage of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.