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Perrin’s beaked whale

Mesoplodon perrini

Based on just five individuals that stranded along the coast of California between 1975 and 1997, Perrin’s beaked whale was only recognised as a species a few years ago.

beaked whale illustration
Male Female Calf
Maximum length 3.9m 4.4m Unknown
Maximum weight Unknown Unknown Unknown

IUCN conservation status: Endangered

What do Perrin's beaked whales look like?

The Perrin's beaked whale has a small, thick body. It is dark grey on its top/dorsal side, fading to white on the underbelly.  The dorsal fin is small and triangular, set about 2/3 of the way back the body. It also has a small head with a slightly bulging melon at the top and front, and a short beak within which the adult male has a single pair of large triangular teeth at the tip of the lower jaw, extending to slightly above the upper jaw.

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

With just two unconfirmed sightings of Perrin's beaked whales, very little information exists on their behaviour. It is presumed to be similar to most other beaked whales, with scarring suggesting competition among males for mates.

Where do Perrin's beaked whales live?

All recorded strandings have occurred around southern and central California, suggesting that the Perrin's beaked whale is native to this area of the Pacific Ocean.

What do Perrin's beaked whales eat?

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.

Distribution map

Perrin's beaked whale distribution map

Perrin's beaked whales need your help

The main threats...

  • Noise pollution – Perrin's beaked whales are vulnerable to naval sonar and seismic activity.
  • Whaling - Perrin's beaked whales may have been taken by whalers 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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