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Cuvier’s beaked whales

March 14, 2017 Written by

www.carolinaacastro.com

 

Did you know that our beloved Guadalupe Island has been identified as a popular habitat for Cuvier’s beaked whales?

The Cuvier’s beaked whale lives for 40 years, grows to about 16-23 feet in length and on average weighs 5,500 lbs.  This medium-sized, toothed whale, has a small and curved dorsal fin, small flippers, large flukes and lacks the median notch (indentation between the two flukes) found in all other cetaceans.  It has a short head with a gentle sloping melon, and a short beak compared to other beaked whales.  The body is either a greyish or reddish-brown colour with a white face and a white streak that extends from the head to the upper back towards the dorsal fin.

There are over 20 known species of the beaked whale, but what makes this whale so special is that it holds the record for being the most extreme deep sea diving mammal in the world.  It has been recorded as diving as deep as 2,992m (9,816 feet) and is able to hold its breath for over two hours.  To put that in perspective, a recreational diver is permitted to dive up to 130 feet deep (with the approximately depth of a 12-story building) yet this elusive whale in comparison can dive down an impressive 906 stories (the length of the empire state building eight times over.)  The enviable diving skills of this whale poses challenges for scientists who are trying to study and observe their habitat and behavioural patterns.

When twenty-nine groups of this elusive whale were encountered during the research expedition known as Divina Guadalupe, the scientists were beyond excited.  Chief Scientist Gustavo Cárdenas-Hinojosa of this research expedition, was quoted as saying, “Just as an example, a recent 40-day research cruise in California yielded five sightings of Cuvier’s beaked whales.”

Jenny Trickey from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography stated: “Guadalupe Island is an amazing place to study Cuvier’s beaked whales. The deep waters around the island due to the narrow continental shelf means we can sight these whales frequently and close to land.”

Although Guadalupe Island is better known for the congregation of great white sharks during fall and winter, it is being recognized as a key habitat for Cuvier’s beaked whales and is becoming a favoured destination for scientists, who work hard to gain more knowledge and understanding of these mysterious cetaceans.

We love Guadalupe Island.  We love everything about it.  We love the gorgeous nature.  We love the pristine underwater experience.  We love the big animal diving.  We love giving our guests a once-in-a-life experience at one of the coolest outposts we know.  If you can pull your eyes away from the great whites circling your dive cage, keep your eyes peeled for these whales.

Link to Sea Shepherd’s short film about Divina Guadalupe complete with beaked whale footage and interviews with scientists and Sea Shepherd crew: https://youtu.be/el80rXIFcTI

 

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