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Gregory R. Mann, Ph.D. {ret.}

Ginko-toothed Beaked Whale

“Mesoplodon ginkgodens” 

Ginko-toothed Beaked Whales are a type of beaked whale where the adult males have been observed with darkly colored with white spots over the posterior (rear) 1/3 of their undersides. These white spots may be pigmentation or parasitic scars. Ginkgo-toothed Beaked Whales are more robust than most mesoplodonts but otherwise look fairly typical. Halfway through the jaw, there is a sharp curve up where the ginkgo leaf-shaped tooth is. Unlike other species such as Blainville’s Beaked Whale and the Andrew’s Beaked Whale, the teeth do not arch over the rostrum. The beak itself is of a moderate length. Females are believed to have medium gray bodies with light gray undersides. Males are characterized by a single pair of slightly protruding lower teeth (called tusks) that are shaped like a ginkgo leaf. They do not appear to be as heavily scarred as most other mesoplodonts. Their throat grooves, dorsal fins and tail flukes are typical for Mesoplodon species. Ginko-toothed Beaked Whales maximum known sizes are 4.9 meters (females) and 4.8 meters (males).

Ginko-toothed Beaked Whales are found in the North Pacific from Japan to California and have also been sighted in the Indian Ocean. They have been found stranded off the coasts of Japan, California, Mexico, Taiwan, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Because of the rare sightings, it is thought that this species prefers warm, offshore open waters. Very little is known about the feeding habits of Ginko-toothed Beaked Whales, however they likely feed on prey similar to that of other beaked whales such as squid and fish. Almost nothing is currently known of the biology of Ginko-toothed Beaked Whales. At birth, they are thought to be about 2-2.5 meters in length.

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