Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Voyage of the Odyssey Voice from the Sea
What is the Voyage of the Odyssey Track the Voyage Interactive Ocean Class from the Sea Patrick Stewart
> Odyssey Logs -
Search by Region
- Mediterranean Sea
- Mauritius
- Sri Lanka
- Maldives
- The Seychelles
- Indian Ocean
- Australia
- Papua New Guinea
- Kiribati
- Pacific Passage
- Galapagos Islands
> Odyssey Logs - Search by Topic
> Odyssey Video
> Current Location - Map
> A Day in the Life
> Meet the Crew
site map  
Beaked whales are mysterious, elusive animals that are notoriously skittish and shy of boats. Usually the best that one hopes for is a passing glance at a beaked whale. The Blainville is one of the oddest looking of all cetaceans, with the males having two huge teeth erupting from bulges in the lower jaw. The Blainville's are blue-gray above and white below, with the dark areas tending to have oval white scars and scratches.
Photo: Genevieve Johnson

November 3, 2000
Beaked Whales
Real Audio


Log Transcript

This is Genevieve Johnson talking to you from the Odyssey. Today we experienced a unique encounter with what we believe were four Blainville's beaked whales. What made this encounter so incredible is the fact that beaked whales are mysterious, elusive animals that are notoriously skittish and shy of boats. Usually the best that one hopes for is a passing glance at a beaked whale.

Since the beginning of the voyage, we have had perhaps a handful of such encounters, but none for the length of time, and in as close proximity as we had today. Tom Tilas first spotted the group about 80meters off our port bow. Usually this species will surface for 2-3 blows and then dive for as much as 45 minutes, these whales dove, but resurfaced twice within less than ten minutes. The repeated surfacing afforded the crew only a quick glimpse, but that was enough, giving us an unusual opportunity to identify this rarely observed species. Rebecca, our scientific coordinator identified them as Blainville's beaked whales.

The Blainville is one of the oddest looking of all cetaceans, with the males having two huge teeth erupting from bulges in the lower jaw. When one of the whales surfaced head first, it was apparent that it was a male, and the position of the teeth made the ID possible. The Blainville's are blue-gray above and white below, with the dark areas tending to have oval white scars and scratches.

The calves of this species have never been properly described, and although we are sure we had a good look at a calf we were unable to get an image. As with all 14 known species of beaked whale, positive identification is only possible when the head of an adult male is seen (in field conditions females look pretty much alike) further more it is possible if not probable that more undescribed beaked whale species exist. There is one species of beaked whale, the strapped toothed beaked whale whose mature males have a bizarre feature, its teeth actually curve upward and over the upper jaw, restricting the animals ability to open its mouth, because of this arrangement the way such males feed is not known. Many species of beaked whale are known only, or primarily from the study of skeletal material from a few stranded carcasses. Another unidentified species, which has been sighted but is yet to be described, is known only as Species A. The external appearance, behavior and distribution of individual species are poorly documented. Considering this, you can understand why it was so exhilarating for the crew to see any species of beaked whale, yet incredibly frustrating not to get a clear image of them due to the short time spent at the surface.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

| Back |

 
 
> Home > Voice from the Sea > What is the Voyage? > Track the Voyage > Interactive Ocean > Class from the Sea > Patrick Stewart > Help with Plugins? > Site Map