Spade-toothed beaked whale

Mesoplodon traversii

The spade-toothed beaked whale has the distinction of possibly being the least known of all the world's whales!

It is described only from skeletal remains consisting of two skulls and one jawbone. It has never been seen in the wild.

Other names: Traver's beaked whale, Bahamondi's beaked whale, Spade-toothed whale

Spade-toothed beaked whale distribution map
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 4.5m 4.5m Unknown
Maximum weight Unknown Unknown Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Data Deficient

What do spade-toothed beaked whales look like?

Investigation of the remains indicated that the skull morphology of the spade-toothed beaked whale is similar to that of the strap-toothed beaked whale. It is assumed to be a medium sized beaked whale, with the adult male possessing two large tusks that erupt half-way along the lower jaw and curl up and over the beak. Specific characteristics like colouration are unknown.

What's life like for spade-toothed beaked whales? 

Spade-toothed whales have never been seen in the wild, and nothing is known of their behaviour, however it is assumed to have similar traits as other members of the Mesoplodon genus.

Where do spade-toothed beaked whales live?

The three specimens of spade-toothed beaked whales were found in New Zealand and Chile and the species is thought to be found only in the southern hemisphere and possibly just in the South Pacific. However, the full extent of their distribution remains unknown.

What do spade-toothed beaked whales eat?

Like other beaked whales and other deep divers, they are thought to feed primarily on squid.

Distribution map

Spade-toothed beaked whale distribution map

Orcas need your help

Orcas are at the top of the food chain, and they have no natural predators. But orcas face a number of serious threats – all of them from humans

The main threats...

  • Noise pollution – Spade-toothed beaked whales are vulnerable to naval sonar and seismic activity.
  • Bycatch – Entanglement in fishing gear is likely to be one of the predominant threats to this deep-water species.
  • Plastic – stranded individuals of similar species have been found with plastic in their stomachs.

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