The pygmy beaked whale
), also known as the bandolero beaked whale
, Peruvian beaked whale
and lesser beaked whale
, is the smallest of the mesoplodonts and one of the newest discoveries. There were at least two dozen sightings of an unknown beaked whale named Mesoplodon sp. A
before the initial classification, and those are now believed to be synonymous with the species. Physical evidence of the species was first described in 1991 from a skeleton and a rotting carcass found in Bahia de La Paz, Baja California in 1990.
The body of the pygmy beaked whale is the rather typical spindle shape of the genus, although the tail is unusually thick. The melon is somewhat bulbous and slopes down into a rather short beak. The mouthline in males has a very distinct arch with two teeth protruding slightly from the gum line before the apex. The coloration is typically dark gray on the top and lighter below, especially on the lower jaw, throat, and behind the umbililicus. Males may have a distinct pale "chevron" patterns on their backs. The size for this species in only around 4.5 meters (13 feet) long in mature animals, and around 1.6 meters (5 ft) when born.
Population and distribution
This beaked whale has been recorded in the eastern tropical Pacific between Baja California and Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....
through sightings and strandings. Another specimen, apparently of the same species, washed up in New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...
, which indicates a presence in the western Pacific as well. No population estimates have been made.
Little is known about the group behaviors of this whale, and small groups have been seen. Stomach contents reveal at least one specimen is a fish eater, as opposed to the squid normally eaten by the genus.
This species may be quite vulnerable to gillnets in Peru, since scientists found six dead adults in a very small sample. However, there is not enough evidence to determine anything about the species.
- MNZ MM002142, collected from Oaro overbridge, south of Kaikoura, New Zealand, 19 October 1993.
- 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