Mesoplodon hectori (Gray, 1871)

English: Hector's beaked whale
German: Hector Schnabelwal
Spanish: Zifio de Héctor
French: Mésoplodon de Hector


Drawing of M. hectori © Wurtz-Artescienza (see links).


1. Description

Hector's Beaked Whale appears to be dark grey to brown, with pale grey undersides. Scratches and scars are common on the flanks, while a small triangular tooth is found exposed on either side of the lower jaw near the tip. The longest stranded male was 4.3 m, with the longest female slightly bigger at 4.4 m (Ward 2001).back to the top of the page


2. Distribution

Hector's beaked whale is circumglobal in temperate waters of the southern hemisphere. Specimens were recorded from Tierra del Fuego and Chubut in Argentina, the Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Cape Province in South Africa, Tasmania, North Island and South Island in New Zealand, and Isla Navarino in Chile (Rice, 1998).

Previously, it was supposed that this species may also be vagrant in Southern California, where there were several strandings and sightings from 1975 to 1979 (Rice, 1998). However, the California specimens have recently been found to belong to the new species Mesoplodon perrini found in the Eastern North Pacific (Dalebout et al. 2000; Dalebout, pers. comm.; Dalebout et al. 2002), which would confine M. hectori to the Southern Hemisphere.

Distribution of Mesoplodon hectori (mod. from Carwardine, 1995; copyright
CMS / GROMS; enlarge map). The species is circumpolar in temperate waters of the
southern hemisphere (Pitman 2002) ).
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3. Population size

no entries.back to the top of the page


4. Biology and Behaviour

According to Carwardine (1995), with only 2 probable sightings in the wild, there is little information on behavior. However, this species may be unusual for a Mesoplodon because, in both instances, one of the animals seemed inquisitive and actually approached the boat. If this is normal behavior, it seems strange that there have not been more sightings (unless the species is rare).

Pairs may be the typical group size. Hector's beaked whales are known to feed on squid (Jefferson et al. 1993).

There is no recent literature on this species.back to the top of the page


5. Migration

np entries.back to the top of the page


6. Threats

no entries.back to the top of the page


7. Remarks

Categorised as "Data Deficient" by the IUCN (see "links"). Hector's beaked whale is not listed by CMS, but see recommendations for southern South American cetaceans in Hucke-Gaete (2000).back to the top of the page


8. Sources and further information

see "Genus Mesoplodon - Beaked whales: Introduction and Sources"

© Boris Culik, Kiel, Germany, 2003

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