The general distribution of Gray's beaked whales, Ziphiidae (Beaked Whales), they are rarely seen and poorly studied. There is no reliable information on migratory habits, if any, of this species. (Evans, 1987; Klinowska and Cooke, 1991), is in the oceans of the southern hemisphere, south of 30 degrees latitude. Original sightings were off the coast of New Zealand and Eastern Australia east to Argentina and Chile. However, recent sightings near South Africa, north to Madagascar, and in the Indian Ocean east to Australia confirm its circumpolar home range. There has been one confirmed live animal sighting in the northern hemisphere, off the coast of The Netherlands, but there have been no other indications of a North Atlantic population (IUCN, 1991). Though there are nineteen species in the Family
The particular waters (Klinowska and Cooke, 1991)occupies are not well known. Animals are generally spotted in waters deeper than 2000 m, but animals frequent shallower waters and have often been found beached in New Zealand.
- Range depth
- 2000 to 0 m
- 6561.68 to 0.00 ft
Ziphiidae, are medium sized whales with a distinct beak. They are 5.0 to 6.0 m in length and weigh around 5 tons (10,000 pounds). is distinct from all other beaked whales (except for Tasmacetus shepherdi) in that it does not lack upper teeth; rather, it has a row of 17 to 22 teeth lining each side of the upper jaw. (Culik, 2002; Evans, 1987; Klinowska and Cooke, 1991; MacLeod, 2000; MacLeod, 2002), like all members of
One of the most conspicuous features of members of the genus Mesoplodon is the single pair of enlarged triangular tusks in the lower jaw. The location of these tusks is set farther back in the mouth than in other beaked whales. The exact function of these tusks is unknown, but the pattern of scarring on the head and body of examined individuals indicates that fighting may occur, most likely for mates . Some Mesoplodon have a hardened bone in their skulls, acting like a shield while fighting. These tusks were originally thought to erupt only in males. However, more recent information shows that the tusks erupt in both sexes. Beached females with erupting tusks, have been discovered recently with high frequency. (Culik, 2002; MacLeod, 2000; MacLeod, 2002)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- Average mass
- 5000 kg
- 11013.22 lb
- Range length
- 5.5 to 6.0 m
- 18.04 to 19.69 ft
Unfortunately, there is little information on the mating system of toothed whales (Odontoceti). , like other toothed whales, does not show as distinct a seasonality in mating and birth as do the baleen whales; this is primarily due to the relatively warmer waters the toothed whales inhabit. Toothed whales live in small groups with very large ranges of thousands of square miles. It may be difficult for individuals to meet others of the opposite sex, so when they do, it is essential that the right signals are conveyed. Toothed whales are very social, and when pods meet there are physical changes in the female’s body to indicate to potential mates that she is ready. Though these exact signals are unknown, it is likely that a combination of both behavioral dance-like movements and hormones discharged through feces or urine serve as cues. (Evans, 1987). However, it is very likely that follows similar patterns to other
The courtship and mating rituals usually involve belly contact between the male and female. The pair may be interlocked vertically, or the male may swim upside-down underneath the female. There is also much play in the form of chases, breaching of the surface, and flipper contact. All these behavioral cues convey the readiness to mate. (Evans, 1987)
Detailed information on the reproductive behavior of (Evans, 1987)is unavailable. The mother most likely give birth to a single calf. , like many whales, are most often seen in pods and highly social behavior has been observed. Often in these groups, females that don't have offspring of their own assist other females in the pod raise their calves. A calf likely remains by its mother’s side until it reaches maturity.
Although toothed whales occupying warm oceanic waters can breed throught the year, most breeding in the southern hemisphere is probably between October and December, and the young are born between February and March. Breeding grounds for similar species are often in shallower waters that are sheltered by bays or inlets. Seasonal movements from winter mating grounds to summer feeding grounds are common for other species but not confirmed for (Evans, 1987).
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Unknown; Probably one calf per year.
- Breeding season
- Unknown; Probably between October and December
- Average number of offspring
All cetacean species follow a similar pattern for parental investment. The mother nurses the young; she and the pod family teach newborn calves how to socialize, how to avoid preadators, and how to hunt. Specific information on (Evans, 1987)is unavailable.
There is no information on the lifespan of (Klinowska and Cooke, 1991)and there have been no reports of attempts to keep any animals in captivity.
Pods of (Klinowska and Cooke, 1991)have been spotted in the waters all over the southern hemisphere, but there is no information on the movements of particular pods or individuals. No attempts to track or radio-collar these animals have been reported.
Information on the home range size ofis unavailable.
Communication and Perception
The communication habits of (Evans, 1987)are unknown, but those of other whales have been well studied. Whales are famous for their combination of songs, squeals, grunts, clicks, and clacks. Because water serves as a much better transmission medium for sound than air, evolution has clearly centered on vocal communication rather than any other form. The timing of whale communications, along with their content, may signal position, identity, threats, or food to other members of a pod or to other pods.
The most common beaked whales, Blainville's Beaked whales, have been observed to use particular patterns of clicks when herding schools of prey, possibly to confuse them. It has been proposed that uses similar methods, but further information is unavailable. (Evans, 1987)
Some tactile communication most likely occurs between mates, as well as between mothers and their offspring. If the tusks of these animals are used in physical competition, as scarring patterns on the head indicate, this is another form of tactile communication which should be noted. (Evans, 1987)
Females may signal their sexual readiness with chemical cues.
- Other Communication Modes
Beaked whales of the genus Mesoplodon eat squid almost exclusively, usually members of the families Ommastrephidae, Octopoteuthidae, Enoploteuthidae, and Neoteuthidae. Mesoplodon may also feed on deep-sea and mesopelagic fish (Lampanyctus, Scopelogadus, Cepola), but they are likely to be only opportunistic prey; squid make up the great majority of the diet. (Evans, 1987)
- Animal Foods
Natural preadators of Gray's Beaked whales are unknown. The natural coloration pattern (dark on the dorsal side, lighter on the belly) makes these animals harder to see from above (where they blend in with darker water below) and from below (where they blend in with lighter water above it). (Klinowska and Cooke, 1991)
This species is not known to be commercially hunted, but the possibilty that individuals have been taken by fishing operations cannot be excluded. However, the known population of (Klinowska and Cooke, 1991)generally resides outside of most commercial fishing operations and the impact of these operations is probably limited.
- Anti-predator Adaptations
The evolutionary development of dentition in mesoplodont whales and their nearly exclusive diet of squid, indicate that there must be a strong ecological relationship between these organisms. The highly specialized tongue and reduced teeth allow the whales to use suction to capture their prey. The stomach remains of mesoplodont whales almost always contains squid species smaller than 500 g, which contrasts sharply with other beaked whales (genera Hyperoodon and Ziphius) whose diet consists mainly of squid averaging 1000 g in weight (CMS, 2003). This information indicates that Mesoplodon occupies a dietary niche separate from other beaked whales. The preference for and effectiveness at capturing squid suggests that mesoplodont whales strongly impact the squid population.
- Data Unknown
- Data Unknown
- Data Unknown
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
The instances of humans encounteringare so rare that it probably has little direct economic importance. Further information is unavailable.
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse affects ofon humans.
Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Arthur Wang (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor, instructor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
- Atlantic Ocean
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
- Pacific Ocean
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
uses sound to communicate
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
to jointly display, usually with sounds, at the same time as two or more other individuals of the same or different species
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
An aquatic biome consisting of the open ocean, far from land, does not include sea bottom (benthic zone).
- saltwater or marine
mainly lives in oceans, seas, or other bodies of salt water.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
- sexual ornamentation
one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
2000. "Cetacea" (On-line). Accessed February 09, 2004 at http://www.cetacea.org.
Culik, B. 2002. "Mesoplodon grayi" (On-line). Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). Accessed August 08, 2004 at http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/data/m_grayi/m_grayi.htm.
Evans, P. 1987. The Natural History of Whales & Dolphins. New York, New York USA: Facts on File, Inc.
Klinowska, M., J. Cooke. 1991. Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales of the World. Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.: IUCN The World Conservation Union.
MacLeod, C. 2000. Species recognition as a possible function for variations in position and shape of the sexually dimorphic tusks of Mesoplodon whales. Evolution, 56/6: 2171-2173.
MacLeod, C. 2002. Possible functions of the ultradense bone in the rostrum of Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 80:1: 178-184.