Ziphius cavirostris   G. Cuvier,  1823 (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: At birth: 2.7 m; adult: 7.5 m.

Weight: Male: 5.6 tons; Female: 6.5 tons.

Color: Body coloration is variable between the individuals, the back being dark rust brown, slate-grey or fawn colored. The belly is usually lighter. The head, especially in older males, is paler and almost completely white or cream-colored oval blotches on the belly and sides.

The body of this beaked whale is long and robust, with a small head. The forehead slopes gradually, so that the short beak is not sharply defined. The scooped appearance of the head, and the shape, light color and relatively small size of its rostrum give it the name Goosebeak Whale. The lower jaw extends beyond the upper one.

A V-shaped pair of throat grooves, characteristic of beaked whale is present. The flippers are small, and the high dorsal fin may be sickle-shaped or triangular. The rear margin of the flukes is slightly concave. A single pair of conical teeth is present at the tip of the lower jaw. These are large in males, but in females they are slender and pointed, and do not normally erupt. The species has a low and inconspicuous spout, which projects slightly forward and to the left.

Cuvier’s Beaked Whales make deep dives lasting up to 30 minutes to find prey. Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is one of the commoner beaked whales. It was first described by Georges Cuvier from a skull found in Marseilles in 1804. This species normally lives in extended family pods of around 15 individuals. Solitary males are sometimes seen. They seem to strand more often than the other beaked whales.

Similar species: This species may be confused with other Beaked Whales, but their robust body, blunt head and lighter coloration around the head is diagnostic.

Synonym (s)
Aliama desmarestii Gray, 1864
Aliama indica Gray, 1865
Delphinorhynchus australis Burmeister, 1865
Delphinus desmaresti Risso, 1826
Delphinus philippii Cocco, 1846
Epiodon australe Burmeister, 1867
Epiodon australis Gray, 1871
Epiodon chathamiensis Hector, 1873
Epiodon cryptodon Gray, 1870
Epiodon desmarestii Carus, 1893
Epiodon heraultii Gray, 1872
Epiodon patachonicum Burmeister, 1867
Hyperodon semijunctus Cope, 1865
Hyperondon semijunctus Hall & Kelson, 1959
Hyperoodon capensis Gray, 1865
Hyperoodon desmarestii Gray, 1850
Hyperoodon doumetii Gray, 1850
Hyperoodon gervaisii Duvernoy, 1851
Petrorhynchus capensis Gray, 1865
Petrorhynchus indicus Gray, 1865
Petrorhynchus mediterraneus Gray, 1871
Ziphiorrhynchus cryptodon Burmeister, 1865
Ziphius aresques Gray, 1871
Ziphius australis Trouessart, 1904
Ziphius cavirostris indicus Deraniyagala, 1945
Ziphius chatamensis Lahille, 1899
Ziphius chathamensis Flower, 1885
Ziphius chathamiensis Iredale & Troughton, 1934
Ziphius cryptodon Fischer, 1857
Ziphius decavirostris Gray, 1871
Ziphius grebnitzkii Stejneger, 1883
Ziphius indicus Van Beneden, 1863
Ziphius novaezealandiae Haast, 1876
Ziphius savii (Richiardi, 1873)
Zyphius chathamensis Moreno, 1895

Common Name (s)
• Cuvier's Beaked Whale (English)
• Goosebeak Whale (English)
• Goose-Beaked Whale (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Threats:  Anthropogenic

Habitat:  Demersal, Open Sea
Prey:  Sea squids, fishes and crustaceans.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Porto Novo INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• INDIA (Record: 1800-2000)

Literature Source(s)
  • Sathasivam K (2004) Marine mammals of India Universities Press(India) private limited, Hyderabad, India 180 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • Kumaran, PL (2002) Marine mammal research in India: A review and critique of the methods Current Science Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore 83(10) 1210-1220 Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Padmanaban P and Dinesh K.P (2011) A checklist of Marine Mammals of India Marine Biology Reginal centre, Zoological Survey of India 4pp Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2013-03-04

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