Hector's beaked whale

Hector's beaked whale (Mesoplodon hectori), is a small mesoplodont living in the Southern Hemisphere. This whale is named after Sir James Hector, a founder of the colonial museum in Wellington, New Zealand. Some specimens washed up and been sighted in California and once thought to belong to this species have subsequently been shown through analysis of mtDNA and detailed morhological examination to be a new species, Perrin's beaked whale (Dalebout et al.2002). The species has rarely been seen in the wild.

Some data supposedly referring to this species, especially juveniles and males, turned out to be based on the misidentified specimens of Perrin's beaked whale - especially since the adult male of Hector's beaked whale was only more recently described. Dalebout et al. (2002) specifically list Mead (1981), Mead (1984), Mead & Baker (1987), Mead (1989), Baker (1990), Jefferson et al. (1993), Mead (1993), Carwardine (1995), Reeves and Leatherwood (1994), Henshaw et al. (1997) and Messenger and McQuire (1998) as erroneously attributing data from the new species to Hector's beaked whale.

Body scarring suggests there may be extensive fighting between males, which is common in beaked whales. Nothing is known about breeding in this species.

This species has never been hunted at all, and has not entangled itself in fishing gear. Most records of the whale have been stranded specimens on beaches, particularly in New Zealand.

Hector's beaked whale
  • Size

    Reaching a maximum length of about 4.2 meters (1.9 m when born), and with an estimated weight of about 1 tonne (1.032 tons), Hector's is one of the smallest of the beaked whales.

  • Feeding

    Nothing is known about the diet of this species, although it is assumed to feed on deepwater squid and fish. Because they lack functional teeth, they presumably capture most of their prey by suction.

  • Life History

    Very little is known about the life histories of beaked whales.There are currently no data available on their reproductive rates.

  • Behavior

    Not much information is available about group composition of beaked whales.