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Keywords:

  • Mesoplodon;
  • unidentified beaked whale;
  • eastern tropical Pacific

Abstract

Multiple sightings of a distinctive but unidentified species of beaked whale have been made in the eastern tropical Pacific. The unidentified whale has two color morphs: a conspicuously marked black and white form (judged to be larger), and a uniformly gray-brown form. Maximum length estimates have been 5–5.5 m. Other features include a relatively flat head, with a small, distinct melon; a moderately long beak; and a low, wide-based, triangular dorsal fin. On most animals the trailing edge of the dorsal fin is only slightly falcate and often appears straight. On the black and white morph, a broad white or cream-colored swathe originates immediately posterior to the dorsal surface of the head and runs posterio-ventrally on either side of the animal. The prevalence of scarring on the black and white animals suggests sexual dimorphism and that these larger, more conspicuously marked animals are adult males, while the smaller, browner, unscarred animals are females and young. Possibilities for identification include: 1) a well-marked race of a known Mesoplodon sp., 2) Mesoplodon (Indopacetus) pacificus or 3) an undescribed species.