This marine mammal obtained its name from anatomist Georges Curvier who first identified this species from a skull that was found in the Mediterranean coast of France.
These whales are a fairly abundant and solitary species that rarely bring attention to themselves or display acrobatic behaviors.
They are also amazing divers with some estimates stating that these whales can hold their breath for over 120 minutes when they are searching for prey.
Physical Characteristics and Appearance
These whales are known to grow to lengths of between 15 – 25 ft. long when fully matured and weigh as much as 7,000 lbs.
They have stocky oval-shaped bodies with a small curved triangular dorsal fin located on it’s far back and a pair of small fins used for swimming and navigating the ocean, which can be tucked to the sides in order to improve their aerodynamics and streamlining.
As their name suggests these whales have a beak shaped mouth with a short sloping skull.
In terms of color these whales have a white colored face with a white streak that extends from the head to the upper back towards the dorsal fin.
The rest of the body is either a grayish color or a reddish-brown coloring.
Some whales may also have white scars that were caused by shark attacks.
As a species Cuvier’s beaked whale belongs to one of over 20 known species of beaked whale and is one of the more familiar and well populated species within the beaked whale family.
Diet and Hunting Methods
When diving for prey these whales are known to hold their breath for up to 90 minutes with some scientific observations reporting dives lasting over 2 hours.
The deepest known dives for these marine mammals was recorded at depths of nearly 10,000 ft. making these animals record holders for the deepest diving mammals as the longest known mammals to hold their breath underwater from a study performed in 2014.
Due to their deep diving nature very little is known about their hunting methods however because they are part of the toothed whale suborder they are capable of using echolocation to identify prey and make their way around the ocean in areas where light is absent.
Habitat and Migration
Cuvier’s beaked whale is a widely distributed whale that can be found living in most parts of the world from the tropical climates to cooler waters, however they tend to stay away from some of the coldest climates.
While they are found in most of the worlds major oceans a large majority of these whales can be found in the eastern tropical pacific waters.
When compared to other beaked whale species these marine mammals are considered fairly abundant with estimated numbers reaching over 100,000 whales world wide.
They also tend to prefer swimming in waters that are more than 3,000 ft. deep and typically avoid swimming in shallow coastal waters.
Little is known about their migratory behavior and additional research must be performed before any conclusive theories can be made.
Social Structure and Communication
These whales can generally be found swimming in small pods of up to 12 whales.
On rare occasions they may form pods of more than 20 whales and in some cases they may choose to travel alone.
Unlike other species of whale Cuvier’s beaked whale is fairly passive and rarely displays any acrobatic or attention drawing behaviors.
Reproduction and Lifespan
The average gestation period for this whale is unknown.
After birth the baby whale is nursed by its mother by suckling milk from her nipple and will continue to feed from its mother until it can survive on its own.
The milk that is provided to the child is made up of nutrients and fat that helps the baby whale receive the essential vital nutrients that it needs to grow into a young healthy whale.
Sexual maturity is generally reached between the ages of 7 – 12, at which point these whales may begin mating and giving birth.
In terms of longevity these whales are believed to have an average lifespan of around 25 – 50 years, however some whales may live up to 60 years.
Cuvier’s beaked whale is known to face a number of threats including:
Fishing hazards – Cuvier’s beaked whale may end up being caught in fishing nets or other fishing equipment in areas where commercial fishing is common.
Despite being able to hold their breath for over 2 hours these animals are marine mammals so they can end up drowning due to an inability to resurface for oxygen.
They may also be occasionally struck by passing ships.
Water pollution – These whales may face threats from contamination and water pollution in certain areas.
They may either be affected directly through garbage and chemical poisoning or indirectly through consuming contaminated fish and other forms of prey.
While not well studied among these whales marine mammals that have been the victims of pollution have been known to have issues reproducing, giving birth to deformed children, suffering from negative side affects for several generations and dying as a result of poisoning and/or pollution.
Noise pollution – Loud man-made sounds from sonar, loud planes and other artificial sounds may interfere with echolocation, vocal communication and their ability to observe natural sounds.
Numerous reports of marine mammals becoming stranded on land or suffering from brain trauma due to loud man-made sounds have been reported over the last decade.
Cuvier’s beaked whale may face threats from natural predators, however this has not been well researched.
Scars found on the bodies of some whales indicate that they may be preyed upon by sharks.
Given their large demographic it is possible that they may face attacks from killer whales as well.