Mesoplodon europaeus

Gervais, 1855 - Gervais' beaked whale

Distinctive Characteristics

Gervais' beaked whales are dark grey above and lighter grey below. In young animals, the belly is white.

The teeth of adult males are found one-third of the distance from the snout tip to the gape. They are visible outside the closed mouth. The mouthline is relatively straight.

Can be confused with

Gervais' beaked whales are nearly impossible to distinguish at sea from other species of Mesoplodon.


Males attain lengths of at least 4.5 m, and adult females reach at least 5.2 m. Weights of at least 1200 kg are attained. Newborns are about 2.1 m in length.

Geographical Distribution

Most records are from the east and Gulf coasts of North America, from New York to Texas, but Gervais' beaked whales are also known from several of the Caribbean islands. In the eastern Atlantic, they are known from the English Channel to Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. There is also a stranding at Ascension Island, in the central South Atlantic.

Biology and Behaviour

The favoured habitat of Gervais' beaked whales appears to be warm temperate and tropical waters. Like other members of the genus, they are known to feed on squid.


There is a record of 1 being taken in a net off New Jersey, and others may have been taken in Caribbean small cetacean fisheries.

IUCN Status

Insufficiently known.