Hubbs' beaked whale
Hubbs' beaked whale was discovered by the ichthyologist Carl Hubbs, who initially thought it was Andrews' beaked whale. For some time it was believed that these two beaked whales were subspecies of the same species (Mesoplodon bowdoini) however recent genetic and morphological studies confirm the validity of two distinct species. Like other whales in this family, little is known about the Hubbs' beaked whale.
The male Hubbs' beaked whale is one of the few beaked whales that may be positively identified at sea. It has three very distinctive features; a raised white forehead (or white 'cap'), stocky white elongated beak and a strongly arched lower jaw with 2 large tusks in the middle and clearly visible when the mouth is closed. The male is dark grey to black in colour and the skin is scratched with long, white scars. The female has a longer beak and less strongly arched jaw from which the teeth do not erupt. The female also lacks the white forehead and both the females and immature whales are medium grey with pale grey undersides. The Hubbs' beaked whale has a rotund spindle-shaped body similar to many of the other beaked whale species. The flippers and dorsal fin are relatively small.
Hubbs' beaked whale is mainly known from strandings data. As there are relatively few confirmed sightings of this species there is little understanding of its behaviour. The scars on the male suggest that they may fight each other, perhaps in competition for females. As with other beaked whale species they probably prefer deeper waters.
There are records of Hubbs' beaked whales in the eastern North Pacific, ranging from British Columbia to California, and also in the western North Pacific, off Japan. It is believed that their range may stretch right across the North Pacific however further evidence is needed. Hubbs' beaked whales are likely to be threatened by entanglement in fishing nets, as well as environmental changes. The species has occasionally been hunted by Japanese whalers, and as with other beaked whales is thought to be threatened by noise pollution. The worldwide population of Hubbs' beaked whales is unknown and the species is listed as Data Deficient by IUCN.