Adult Male © Phil Coles

Quick Facts
Length 12m+ Distribution Throughout temperate north Pacific.
Weight 10 tons+ Identification Large size, long, rotund body, long beak and rounded melon (smaller than melon of bottlenose whale). Two teeth at tip of lower jaw in adults
Diet Deep sea fish and squid Threats Regular whaling (around 60 animals taken off Japan every year), ingestion of rubbish, by-catch.
Group size 1-30, usually 10-15  

This is the largest member of the whale family, longer than a bus and twice the weight of an elephant. Studies of hunted animals hint that these whales may have a complex social structure where male animals play an important role in looking after and nurturing the young.

Restricted to the Northern Pacific ocean, from Japan and California northwards to the Bering Sea, Baird’s beaked whale is possibly the only beaked whale to have been hunted on a regular basis for food. Fisheries for this species once existed off California, British Columbia and Japan, but in recent years it has only been the traditional Japanese coastal fishery that has been active. This appears to be a highly social species with pods of 5 to 20 whales being normal, though pods of up to 50 have been recorded. They appear to be at least partly migratory with sightings over the continental slope being most common in the summer and early autumn. Off Japan there also appears to be a seasonal movement north with peak numbers recorded off the Boso Penninsula (34°N) in August and off Hokkaido (43°N) in October-November before moving to an unknown wintering ground. In inshore waters there also appears to be a bias towards males in the population suggesting that some sexual segregation takes place. As with the other beaked whales this appears to be a deep diving species with most prey species found at depths of 800-1200m. Their diet seems to vary between areas, being squid dominated in some regions and fish dominated in others. However, whether this reflects variations in prey selection or dominant prey availability is unknown. Being deep-divers they are also long divers, with dive times of up to an hour considered normal - significantly longer than they spend at the surface.

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