Mesoplodon hectori

(Gray, 1871) - Hector's beaked whale

Distinctive Characteristics

Body colour of Hector's beaked whales appears to be dark grey-brown above and light grey below, with scratches often covering the body. Males have white on the undersides of the flukes.

The single pair of flattened, triangular teeth is moderately small and is located near the tip of the lower jaw; they erupt only in bulls.

Can be confused with

The placement of the flattened teeth of bulls at the tip of the lower jaw may allow them to be distinguished from other species of Mesoplodon when the head is seen well.


Females of up to 4.4 m and males of up to 4.3 m have been measured. Newborns presumably are about 2 to 2.5 m.

Geographical Distribution

Hector's beaked whale is primarily a Southern Hemisphere cool temperate species. The records are from southern South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Recently, there have been several strandings and possible sightings off southern California, but it is unknown whether these represent extralimital strays or normal occurrences.

Biology and Behaviour

Most of the few sightings have been of pairs of animals. Hector's beaked whales are known to feed on squid, and the remains of an unidentified invertebrate have been found in the stomach of an animal stranded in California.


This species is not known to have been commercially hunted; however, 1 individual was taken in the 1800s in New Zealand.

IUCN Status

Insufficiently known.