Baird's Beaked Whale (Berardius bairdii)
Baird's Beaked Whale Range Map
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Did You Know?
- Baird's beaked whales get their name from Spencer F. Baird, who was a renowned naturalist in the late 1800s and the second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
- Baird's beaked whales are some of the most commonly sighted beaked whales within their specific range due to their gregarious behavior and large body size.
- Stalked barnacles sometimes colonize the teeth of beaked whales, especially in older mature males.
MMPA - all populations
CITES Appendix II - all populations
|over 26,000 pounds (12,000 kg)|
|35-40 feet (about 12 m)|
|mottled grayish and/or brownish with paler belly, and with random white patches|
|54-84 years, with males living longer than females|
|fish like mackerel, sardines, and saury, crustaceans, sea cucumbers, and cephalopods like squid and octopus|
|social, deep-diving whales|
Baird's beaked whales, sometimes called "giant bottlenose whales," are the largest members of the beaked whale family (Ziphiidae). Females reach lengths of about 40 feet (13 m), while males are slightly smaller at about 35 feet (11.5 m). As adults, Baird's beaked whales can weigh approximately 26,400 pounds (12,000 kg). Females may mature slower and have a considerably shorter lifespan than males, 54 to 84 years, respectively.
Baird's beaked whales have a large, long, robust body with a relatively small, rounded, triangular dorsal fin that is located far down (about two-thirds) the animal's back. The whale's head is curved with a bulbous "melon" (forehead); a distinct, long, cylindrical beak; a curved mouth line; and a crescent shaped blowhole. Adults of both sexes have two, relatively small, but visible protruding teeth on the front of their lower jaw, which extends beyond the upper jaw. Their pectoral flippers are short, round, untapered, and fold against the body. Baird's beaked whales' bodies generally appear a mottled grayish and/or brownish in color, and the ventral side may be paler with random white patches. Males may seem lighter due to heavy scarring. Adult males scratch and rake one another using their small front teeth leaving visible grey/white linear scars along their body. Predation from killer whales may also be responsible for some of these scars. Other coloration may be the result of whale lice infestation and "diatoms" on the skin's surface. While at the ocean surface, Baird's beaked whales can be seen producing bushy blows that are visible from a significant distance.
Many species of beaked whales (especially those in the genus Mesoplodon) are very difficult to distinguish from one another (even when dead). At sea they are challenging to observe and identify to the species level due to their cryptic, skittish behavior, a low profile, and a small, inconspicuous blow at the waters surface; therefore, much of the available characterization for beaked whales is to genus level only. Uncertainty regarding species identification of beaked whales often exists because of a lack of easily discernable or apparent physical characteristics.
Baird's beaked whales are usually found in tight social groups (schools or pods) averaging between 2-20 individuals, but have been occasionally seen in larger groups of up to 50 animals. Like other beaked whales, Baird's beaked whales are deep divers. Regular dives range from 11-30 minutes, commonly reaching depths of 3,300 feet (1,000 m). However, Baird's beaked whales could be capable of diving as far down as 9,840 feet (3,000 m) and may hold their breath for an hour or longer (max at least 67 minutes). While diving, they generally feed between depths of 2,500-4,000 feet (800-1,200 m) on deep-sea and "pelagic" fish (e.g., mackerel, sardines, and saury), crustaceans, sea cucumbers as well as cephalopods (e.g., squid and octopus). When at the surface, they will remain logging (resting), continuously blowing, breaching, or displaying various other behaviors between dives for as long as 14 minutes.
Baird's beaked whales reach sexual maturity at 10-15 years for females and 6-11 years for males. A sexually mature female or cow will give birth to a single calf that is about 15 feet (4.6 m) in length, usually between the months of March and April after an estimated gestation period of 12-17 months. Females calve every 3 or more years.recent stock assessment reports include population estimates. There is little information on the abundance of this species worldwide due to the rarity of sightings at sea. Thus, data are insufficient to estimate population trends.
- commercial whaling
At least 4,000 Baird's beaked whales were taken in the North Pacific, mainly from Japanese waters, though also by Russia, Canada, and the U.S.
- whaling, in Japan
- incidental take as bycatch in the California/ Oregon drift gillnet fishery
- Anthropogenic noise in the ocean
Deep-diving cetaceans like Baird's beaked whales use sound to feed, communicate, and navigate in the ocean.
|Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Plan||62 FR 51805||10/03/1997|
|Stock Assessment Reports||n/a||various|
- Beaked Whales
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Baird's Beaked Whale Identification Guide
- Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS-SEAMAP) Baird's Beaked Whale Species Profile
- Reeves, R. R., P. A. Folkens, et al. (2002). Guide to Marine Mammals of the World. New York, Alfred A. Knopf. p.261-263.
- Jefferson, T. A, M. A. Webber, and R. L. Pitman. (2008). Marine Mammals of the World, A Comprehensive Guide to their Identification. Amsterdam, Elsevier. p. 93-95.
- Kasuya, T. (2007). Japanese Whaling and Other Cetacean Fisheries. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International. January, 14 (1), p. 39-48.
- Shirihai, H. and B. Jarrett (2006). Whales, Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals of the World. Princeton, Princeton University Press. p.112-114.
Updated: September 28, 2015