Perrin’s beaked whale is a small – mid sized beaked whale that can be found traveling off the coast of California.
This species makes up one of over 15 species of beaked whale and is one of over 80 known cetacean species in existence today.
Due to rare sightings among these whales insufficient data exists regarding their range and distribution, however these whales are closely related to the pygmy beaked whale species.
Most of the data that has been collected on Perrin’s beaked whale comes from observations of beached whales.
These whales are part of the toothed whale suborder and are one of over 80 known cetaceans in existence today.
When fully matured Perrin’s beaked whale measures in at 12 – 15 ft. long with females growing slightly larger than their male counterparts.
These whales are partially named after their beak shaped jaw which extends from their small head.
Males have two visible teeth that protrude from the lower beak (one on each side) when the mouth is closed, while females do not have any visible teeth.
The flippers are small and tapered and fit into pockets to allow the whale to compose a more streamlined body when traveling though the water and their dorsal fin is positioned about 2/3 down the back.
They have long robust bodies with dark gray skin and a light gray to white underbody and lower jaw.
Males may also have scaring across their body from conflicts with other whales.
Because Perrin’s beaked whale is a marine mammal it is warm-blooded, breathes air, gives birth to live young and produces milk.
Little information exists regarding this species diet, however examinations of the stomach contents of stranded whales it appears that these whales primarily feed on squid, and may consume octopus and fish as well (assuming they share the same diet as other beaked whales).
These whales also appear to be hunted by predators such as cookiecutter sharks and other predatorial animals, and is likely fed on by parasites.
Since Perrin’s beaked whale is part of the toothed whale suborder it is likely that these marine mammals use echolocation to search for prey and navigate the ocean.
In terms of worldwide distribution and habitat these whales have only been found off the coast of California.
It is believe that Perrin’s beaked whale may inhibit the offshore waters of the Pacific coast.
No information is known as to whether or not these whales migrate.
Social Structure and Breeding
Not much is known about the social structure, gestation period, breeding habits, age of sexual maturity or lifespan of these whales, however scaring on the bodies of male whales suggests that males may be particularly aggressive towards one another, especially during mating periods.
As stated earlier possible threats include being attacked by sharks such as the cookiecutter shark.
Due to their rare status they are rarely seen by humans (most encounters are of beached whales), so it is unlikely that they will be hunted or caught in fishing nets.
Their rare status also suggests that these marine mammals may be a naturally rare species.