The ginkgo-toothed beaked whale is a rare species of beaked whale that can be found living in tropical environments throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans.
These whales make up one of over 20 different known species of beaked whale, however due to their rare status information on this whale species remains fairly scarce.
The rest of this article will provide you with the information we have obtained about these marine mammals.
Physical Characteristics and Appearance
The ginkgo-toothed whale is a warm-blooded marine mammal that received its name because if it’s oddly shaped teeth.
Male whales can be identified by the pair of ginkgo leaf shaped teeth (tusks) that protrude from the lower jaw which remain non visible among the female whales.
In terms of size the ginkgo-toothed whale measures in at around 14 – 18 ft. long when fully grown.
The body is fairly slender compared to its length and stockiest in the center.
As with other beaked whales these whales have a small dorsal fin which is located down the far side of its back and a pair of small flippers that help the whale swim and traverse the ocean.
The beak itself is of a medium size when compared to other beaked whales.
Male whales tend to be a dark gray to black coloring with a light grey under-body, while females have a lighter gray coloring and light pale colored under-body.
Males are also known to have white spots located on their belly and sides from their flippers to the near beginning of their flukes.
Identified beaked whales may also appear to show scaring on their body which may be the result of conflicts they’ve had with other ocean animals.
Diet and Hunting Methods
They may also consume numerous crustaceans and echinoderms.
The ginkgo-toothed beaked whale is assumed to be a deep water hunter and is thought to capture some of its food at or near the sea floor.
While these marine mammals possess teeth their teeth appear to be non functional in regards to helping them consume prey therefore it is believed that they swallow their food whole and use suction to capture their prey.
When diving in areas that are devoid of light echolocation is likely used for navigation and finding food.
Habitat and Migration
The ginkgo-toothed beaked whale can be found living primarily in tropical waters in and around the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Some of the areas where these whales have been spotted include California, the Galapagos Islands, Japan, New South Wales, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Given the fact that there have been so few stranding’s it is believed that these whales prefer inhibiting offshore waters.
Migration patterns and seasonal movement is unknown.
Social Structure and Communication
While not much is known about the social structure and breeding habits of these whales they are believed to be fairly non aggressive as research shows males do not appear to attack or fight one another during breeding periods or during other aggression related social interactions that may be found more common among other species of beaked whale.
Nothing is known about their pod size, social structure or vocal/visual behaviors.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Estimates on gestation periods, breeding habits, sexual maturity and lifespan are also unknown.
Among the beaked whale species the average gestation period for these whales is known to range from 12 – 17 months depending on the whales species.
The average lifespan of a beaked whale is estimated to range from 25 – 50 years depending on the beaked whales species and health with a few estimates proclaiming a lifespan of up to 60 years among certain species.
Note: The gestation length and lifespan are both estimates based on other beaked whale species and may/may not reflect the actual gestation period/lifespan of the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale.
When compared to other beaked whale species these marine mammals appear to have less scarring on their bodies which suggests that they may be less aggressive during mating/reproductive periods and the scarring may be the result of attacks made on them by potential predators.
Nothing is known about the length of nursing for newborns or age of sexual maturity, however researchers estimate the average size of a newborn to be between 6.5 – 8.3 ft. (2 – 2.5 m) long at birth.
For more information on the gestation period and lifespan of various whale species check out these articles:
The ginkgo-toothed beaked whale has been known to face threats from whalers and poachers that are interested in selling their meat, however their rare status makes it difficult for these marine mammals to be hunted on a regular basis.
They have also been accidentally captured in fishing nets and other fishing gear.
Loud man-made acoustics sounds are believed to be a threat as these sounds can interfere with the whales echolocation, communication and ability to navigate the ocean.
During heavy sonar use there have been observations of beaked whales beaching themselves and performing mass strandings which is thought to have been caused by the sonar and other loud equipment which may have disoriented the whale and even caused brain trauma.
Due to the difficulties researchers have faced on trying to locate these marine mammals no estimates can be given on their population size or global distribution.
Threats from natural predators is unknown, however the most common predators among the beaked whale species is the killer whale and large predatory sharks.
Scars found on the bodies of numerous beaked whales suggests conflicts that may have erupted between them and possible predators.
Other than natural predators these whales are occasionally caught by poachers/whalers.