Hubb’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon carlhubbsi) is a toothed whale that belongs to the cetacean species which is composed of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
This marine mammal makes up one of over 20 known species of beaked whale and one of over 80 known species of cetacea.
Hubb’s beaked whale is a rarely seen species that can be found traveling through the North Pacific Ocean.
This whale was named after Carl Hubbs a biologist who first discovered the species and confirmed it as a separate whale rather than confusing it with Andrew’s beaked whale as other individuals/researchers did.
Because these whales are rarely seen (most information comes from beached whales) little information has been available regarding certain aspects of their social lives and habitat.
When fully grown Hubb’s beaked whale typically measures in at 17 – 19 ft. long and weighs between 3100 – 3500 lbs.
Newborn infants measure in at around 8 ft. at birth (half the size of an adult female whale).
The large infants are almost 50% of the mothers fully grown size which is currently believed to be the longest born whale among the beaked whale species when comparing the mothers size to a new born infant.
In terms of shape these whales have long rotund bodies that taper off towards the ends near the head and tail.
As with other beaked whale species they have small flippers which allow them to steer and a small triangular dorsal fin which is located about 2/3 down its back and is believed to assist them with stability while swimming.
They also have a short beak with a single visible tooth showing on both sides of the male’s beak.
Females do not have any protruding teeth showing from their beak.
Both males and females have a gray colored upper-body with a light gray to white under-body and beak (not all females or young have a white beak), however females and calves tend to be a light gray coloring while adult males are a darker gray to black coloring.
Adult males may also show many visible scars across their bodies.
As a marine mammal Hubb’s beaked whale is warm-blooded, breathes air, gives birth to live young and produces milk to feed their children.
Diet and Hunting Methods
Little information exists regarding the diet and hunting methods of this species, however it is believed that these whales feed primarily on squid with some researchers suggesting that they may also consume cephalopods and possibly small fish.
Because these marine mammals belongs to the toothed whale family it is likely that Hubb’s beaked whale uses echolocation to navigate the ocean and search for prey, especially in dark areas.
As with other beaked whale species the lack of useful hunting teeth suggests that these whales consume their prey whole and thus primarily consume small prey, especially invertebrate.
Note: The information regarding the diet of Hubb’s beaked whale is solely based on data collected from the stomachs of beached/stranded whales, therefore our understanding of the full range of their diet is fairly limited.
Habitat and Migration
From what is known about the habitat and range of these whales it is assumed that they are mostly likely found in temperate waters in the North Pacific Ocean.
Most of what is known about their habitat comes from observations of standings’ and random beachings.
These whales have been found in various areas of the North Pacific and in places such as British Columbia, California, Hawaii, Japan and various coasts along North America.
Hubb’s beaked whale is very rarely seen and overall population size and potential migration patterns are unknown.
Social Structure and Breeding
Due to their rare status no solid information has been collected about their social structure or breeding habits.
Observations of scaring on adult males suggest that these whales may travel in groups and males may be particularly aggressive towards one another, especially during mating season.
Female whales may also show scaring however in these cases scaring is often much less prominent than those of their male counterparts.
Information about their gestation period, age of sexual maturity and lifespan are unknown.
Because Hubb’s beaked whale is a rarely seen species it rarely faces threats from humans, however on occasion their meat has been found sold in certain countries.
In some instances these marine mammals may end up being hunted by whalers/poachers that turn around and sell their meat to local butchers and meat markets.
They have also faced occasional threats where they’ve been caught in fishing nets/drift nets that where intended for fish in commercial fishing areas.
These marine mammals either think they are getting an easy meal when they see a group of fish gathered together or don’t realize the hazard from the fishing equipment and end up drowning due to an inability to resurface.
While not reported as a threat to these marine mammals Hubb’s beaked whale may also be at risk of becoming ill from pollution and/or suffering from loud man-made sounds which can interfere with echolocation and their ability to communicate.
Other species of beaked whale have been known to be affected by both pollution and man made sounds and artificial ambient noises are even believed to be the cause of beaching’s/stranding’s among certain beaked whale species.
Not much is known in regards to natural predators, however other species of beaked whale have been reported being hunted by sharks.
Markings and scars found on the bodies of some beaked whale species match those of shark that have been known to small whales so it is possible that Hubb’s beaked whale may face the same threats in certain areas.
Note: There is no information to confirm whether or not Hubb’s beaked whale is actually preyed upon by sharks or any other predators.
The information provided here is solely based on observations of other beaked whale species and is simply a speculation regarding potential predators of Hubb’s beaked whale.