Baird's beaked whale

The genus Berardius encompasses two species of beaked whale which have an antitropical distribution; Arnoux's beaked whale Berardius arnuxii in cold Southern Hemisphere waters and Baird's beaked whale Berardius bairdii in the cold temperate waters of the North Pacific. There has been some debate over whether these two forms represent distinct species or whether they are simply geographic variants. Several morphological characters have been suggested to distinguish them, but the validity of each has been disputed; currently, it seems that there are no significant skeletal or external differences between the two forms, except for the smaller size of the southern specimens known to date.Berardius spp. are the largest of the beaked whales, growing up to 10–12 m in length. They are sometimes referred to as 'four-toothed whales' or 'giant beaked whales', but are most commonly known by their genus name, Berardius.

Baird's beaked whale was first described by Leonhard Hess Stejneger in 1883 from a four-toothed skull he had found on Bering Island the previous year. The species is named for Spencer Fullerton Baird, a past Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Baird's beaked whale
  • Size

    The Baird's have been confirmed to grow to 12–13 m (39–43 ft). The weight is up to 14,000 kg (31,000 lb).

  • Feeding

    Their preferred diet is primarily deep-water squid, but also benthic and benthopelagic fish and some crustaceans, mostly taken near the sea floor. In a recent study, gouge marks in the seafloor were interpreted to be a result of feeding activities by beaked whales.

  • Life History

    Adult males and females of both species pick up numerous white linear scars all over the body as they age and may be a rough indicator of age. There is little sexual dimorphism in either species.

  • Behavior

    The whales normally move in close-knit groups of about three to ten, with groups of 50 observed in exceptional circumstances. Two-thirds of all whales caught have been male, despite the fact females are somewhat larger than males and would be the preferred targets for whalers.