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Beaked Whales: Ziphiidae

Shepherd's Beaked Whale (tasmacetus Shepherdi): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Shepherd's beaked whale, also called the Tasman beaked whale, has not been well studied. What is known about it comes mainly from about twenty stranded whales that have been found in various places in the Southern Hemisphere.

Shepherd's beaked whale is the only whale in this family to have more than half a dozen teeth, It has about 90 to 100 small peg-like teeth in both the upper and lower jaw. Two teeth in the lower jaw of males develop into tusks. Shepherd's beaked whale is about 23 feet (7 meters) long. It has a dark brown or gray back, two light stripes along its side and a light cream-colored belly.

Geographic range: These whales are found in temperate (moderate) water from Chile to South Africa to New Zealand.

Habitat: Shepherd's beaked whale lives in deep water in open ocean.

Shepherd's beaked whale lives in deep water in the open ocean, and was not discovered until 1937. Scientists do not know much about its behavior. (Illustration by Bruce Worden. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Unlike other members of this family that eat squid, the Shepherd's beaked whale appears to eat mainly fish.

Behavior and reproduction: This whale was not discovered until 1937. It is very rare. Almost nothing is known about its behavior or reproduction.

Shepherd's beaked whale and people: There have been only about half a dozen sightings of this whale outside of strandings.

Conservation status: Not enough information is available to give this whale a conservation ranking, although the absence of sightings suggests that it is rare. ∎



American Cetacean Society, Chuck Flaherty, and David G. Gordon. Field Guide to the Orcas. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1990.

Carwadine, Mark, and Martin Camm. Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises. New York: DK Publishing, 2002.

Mead, James G., and Joy P. Gold. Whales and Dolphins in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.

Nowak, Ronald. M. Walker's Mammals of the World Online 5.1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world (accessed on July 8, 2004)

Web sites:

American Cetacean Society. http://www.acsonline.org (accessed July 8, 2004).

Culik, Boris. "Hyperoodon ampullatus." Convention on Migratory Species. http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/data/H_ampullatus/h_ampullatus.htm (accessed July 8, 2004).

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. http://www.wdcs.org (accessed July 8, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsBeaked Whales: Ziphiidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Beaked Whales And People, Northern Bottlenosed Whale (hyperoodon Ampullatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, CONSERVATION STATUS