Cuvier’s beaked whale and a sailfish

While gazing into the ocean from our ship, I spotted something ‘floating’ in the water.  I grabbed pictures before I was able to determine what it was and then it was gone.  Checking the images on the camera, I was completely unaware of what I had captured.  It looked like a small whale, a calf, with its mother close behind.  One blow-hole took it out of the baleen whale category and it was too small.  It was brown, with a mark on its body and a dorsal fin placed well back.  I checked my ‘Marine Mammals of the World’ app and couldn’t find a definite identification but I kept coming back to the 7 metre Cuvier’s beaked whale.  It was the wrong colour and its head should have been white but then I found the young can be very different in their early years.  Now I’m 90% convinced it is a Cuvier’s, a whale that is fairly widespread but not often seen.  Not a great deal is known about it, but this picture puts its breeding area where I found it, off the coast of Costa Rica in the Northern Pacific.  It is a deep diver, some research documenting it as the deepest diver of all cetaceans with one individual tracked to almost 3000 metres and staying below the surface for over 2 hours.  This was a great find.

(Since posting this, I’ve had a message from the Centro de Investigaciòn de Cetáceos CEIC-Costa Rica confirming it is indeed an adult and calf Cuvier’s beaked whale)

The Costa Rica Cetacean Research centre have also confirmed the identity of the ‘fish’ as a sailfish.


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