• Mesoplodon bowdoini;
  • Mesoplodon carlhubbsi;
  • Mesoplodon bahamondi;
  • morphology;
  • osteology;
  • reproduction;
  • distribution;
  • new records;
  • southern oceans


The specific status of Mesoplodon bowdoini Andrews is reviewed and new information on its morphology, reproduction, and distribution is presented. This species of beaked whale, known only from 35 specimens, has a southern, circumpolar distribution north of the Antarctic convergence, between 32° and 54°30′S. It shares with M. bahamondi Reyes, Van Waerebeek, Cárdenas and Yáñez from the south Pacific Ocean including New Zealand (this paper) and M. carlhubbsi Moore from the north Pacific, a number of morphological features such as prominential notches in the maxillary bones in the skull. It is less similar to M. stejnegeri True from the north Pacific and M. ginkgodens Nishiwaki and Kamiya from the tropical Indo-Pacific. Mesoplodon bowdoini can be distinguished from all other species of Mesoplodon by the shape of its teeth (male and female), and differences in the morphology of its skull, especially the proportions of the rostrum, separation of the nasals, the shape of the prominential notches, and the nature of the antorbital processes. The species' distinguishing external characteristics are: a robust body up to about 4.50 m long; a low melon and short, thick beak; an elevated jawline posteriorly; and a low, blunt-tipped, triangular dorsal fin. The occurrence of fetuses of M. bowdoini in May and September, and perinatal juveniles in May and June, indicates a summer-autumn breeding season in the New Zealand region; the length at birth is estimated at about 2.20 m.