Stejneger’s beaked whale

Mesoplodon stejnegeri

Stejneger’s beaked whale is thought to be the only species of Mesoplodon common in Alaskan waters.

The majority of information that is known about the species biology and life history is a result of strandings (which appear to peak in both the winter and spring months), primarily off the west coast of Japan and the Aleutian Islands.

Other names: Bering Sea beaked whale, Sabre-toothed whale, North Pacific beaked whale

beaked whale illustration
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 5.7m 5.5m 2.1m
Maximum weight Unknown 1,600kg Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Data Deficient

What do Stejneger's beaked whales look like?

Stejneger’s beaked whales are small, spindle shaped whales with a relatively small head. They have sloping foreheads and arched mouthlines, with two large spatulate  (broad and rounded) teeth ‘erupting’ from the middle of the lower jaw in males. In some individuals, these teeth grow extremely large and begin to converge, cutting into the upper jaw and restricting the opening of the mouth. As with several other species of beaked whale, the Stejneger's beaked whale has a small, triangular dorsal fin which is set far back on the body. Their colouration is mostly black, dark grey, or brown which fades down the sides and on the belly. Multiple scars and blotches are common and some individuals have a whitish starburst pattern on the underside of their triangular flukes.

What's life like for Stejneger's beaked whales? 

Stejneger's beaked whales are found in small groups of between three and four individuals but may be seen in groups of as many as 15. They are known to swim in unison in tight groups and are shy and difficult to approach, as a result of which, they are rarely seen.

Where do Stejneger's beaked whales live?

The Stejneger's beaked whale is found in cool temperate waters of the North Pacific and southwest Bering Sea.

What do Stejneger's beaked whales?

Like other beaked whales and other deep divers, they are thought to feed primarily on squid, although some smaller fish species and shrimp may also be taken.

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Distribution map

Stejneger's beaked whale distribution map

Stejneger's beaked whales need your help

The main threats...

  • Noise - Stejneger's beaked whales are vulnerable to naval sonar and seismic activity.
  • Whaling - Stejneger's beaked whales were the target of Japanese hunts in the past but are not the subject of any current targeted hunt.
  • Bycatch - Entanglement in fishing gear is likely to be one of the predominant threats to this deep-water species.
  • Plastic - stranded individuals have been found with plastic in their stomachs.

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