Goose-beaked (Cuvier’s beaked) whales in Hawai‘i

Almost a quarter of the 90 recognized species of cetaceans are beaked whales, members of the Family Ziphiidae. There are currently 23 recognized species, but several new species have been described in recent years and it is likely that more will be recognized as genetic analyses are undertaken on skeletal specimens and additional specimens are collected from stranded animals. Three species of beaked whales have been visually documented in Hawaiian waters – Goose-beaked (or Cuvier’s) beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), Blainville’s beaked whale, and Longman’s beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus). We’ve encountered all three species in our work off the island of Hawai‘i, and Goose-beaked and Blainville’s beaked whales have always been high-priority species for us. This has included studies of diving behavior, movements, habitat use, population size, and social organization. A number of publications and reports on Goose-beaked whales have resulted from this work – links to pdfs of these can be found at the bottom of this page

Encounters with beaked whales in Hawai‘i are not frequent; on average we encounter beaked whales once every approximately five days of research effort. Based on our study Goose-beaked whales are the seventh-most frequently encountered species of toothed whale in Hawai‘i. This species has the largest distribution globally, but our research with this species includes the longest-term photo-identification study anywhere in the world! Although we don’t see them very often, our long-term study of their ecology, behavior, habitat use, and population structure makes this population one of the most well-known for this species.

Goose-beaked whales are most frequently confused with Blainville’s beaked whales when encountered. Click on the above graphic to download information on how to distinguish between Goose-beaked and Blainville’s beaked whales. 

Below is a slideshow featuring images of Goose-beaked whales from Hawaii. You can hover your mouse over the images for more information. 

Videos of Cuvier's beaked whales in Hawai‘i

We occasionally collect video footage of Cuvier’s beaked whales as part of our field work in Hawaii – you can view some of our videos below!

References on Goose-beaked whales: 

  • Kratofil, M.A., A.E. Harnish, S.D. Mahaffy, E.E. Henderson, A.L. Bradford, S.W. Martin, B.A. Lagerquist, D.M. Palacios, E.M. Oleson, and R.W. Baird. 2023. Biologically important areas II for cetaceans within U.S. and adjacent waters — Hawai‘i region. Frontiers in Marine Sciences, 10:1053581. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1053581. Download PDF copyDownload supplemental file ADownload supplemental file BDownload supplemental file C.
  • Ziegenhorn, M.A., J.A. Hildebrand, E.M. Oleson, R.W. Baird, S.M. Wiggins, S. Baumann-Pickering. 2023. Odontocete spatial patterns and temporal drivers of detection at sites in the Hawaiian Islands. Ecology and Evolution 13(1):e9688. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9688. Download PDF copy
  • Onoufriou, A.B., O.E. Gaggiotti, N. Aguilar de Soto, M.L. McCarthy, P.A. Morin, M. Rosso, M. Dalebout, N. Davison, R.W. Baird, C.S. Baker, S. Berrow, A. Brownlow, D. Burns, F. Caurant, D. Claridge, R. Constantine, F. Demaret, S. Dreyer, M. Ðuras, J. Durban, A. Frantzis, L. Freitas, G. Genty, A. Galov, S.S. Hansen, A.C. Kitchener, V. Martin, A.A. Mignucci-Giannoni, V. Montano, A. Moulins, C. Olavarría, M.M. Poole, C. Reyes, E. Rogan, C. Ryan, A. Schiavi, P. Tepsich, J. Urban, K. West, M.T. Olsen, and E.L. Carroll. 2022. Biogeography in the deep: Hierarchical population genomic structure of two beaked whale speciesGlobal Ecology and Conservation. In press.
  • Cioffi, W.R., N.J. Quick, H.J. Foley, D.M. Waples, Z.T. Swaim, J.M. Shearer, D.L. Webster, A.S. Friedlaender, B.L. Southall, R.W. Baird, D.P. Nowacek, and A.J. Read. Adult Male Cuvier’s Beaked Whales (Ziphius cavirostris) Engage in Prolonged Bouts of Synchronous Diving. Marine Mammal Science, 1-16. Available from Marine Mammal Science.
  • Foley, H.J., K. Pacifici, R.W. Baird, D.L. Webster, Z.T. Swaim, and A.J. Read. 2021. Residency and movement patterns of Cuvier’s beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series.
  • Baird, R.W. 2019. Behavior and ecology of not-so-social odontocetes: Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales. Pages 305-329 in: Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Toothed Whales and Dolphins, the Odontocetes. Edited by B. Würsig. Springer. ​ Download PDF copy
  • Bernaldo de Quirós, Y., A. Fernandez, R.W. Baird, R.L. Brownell, N. Aguilar de Soto, D. Allen, M. Arbelo, M. Arregui, A. Costidis, A. Fahlman, A. Frantzis, F.M.D. Gulland, M. Iñiguez, M. Johnson, A. Komnenou, H. Koopman, D.A. Pabst, W.D. Roe, E. Sierra, M. Tejedor, and G. Schorr. 2019. Advances in research on the impacts of anti-submarine sonar on beaked whales. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 286:20182533. Download PDF copy
  • Hooker, S.K., N. Aguilar de Soto, R.W. Baird, E.L. Carroll, D. Claridge, L. Feyrer, P.J.O. Miller, A. Onoufriou, G. Schorr, E. Siegal, and H. Whitehead. 2019. Future directions in research on beaked whales. Frontiers in Marine Sciences doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00514. Download PDF copy
  • Shearer, J.M., N.J. Quick, W.R. Cioffi, R.W. Baird, D.L Webster, H.J. Foley, Z.T. Swaim, D.M. Waples, J.T. Bell and A.J. Read. 2019. Diving behavior of Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Royal Society Open Science 6:181728. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W. 2018. Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. In Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Edited by B. Würsig, J.G.M. Thewissen, K.Kovacs. 3rd edition. Elsevier Inc.  Download PDF copy
  • ​Dinis, A., R. W. Baird, S. D. Mahaffy, V. Martín, F. Alves. 2017. Beaked whales with rostrum deformities: Implications for survival and reproduction. Marine Mammal Science DOI: 10.1111/mms.12406. Download PDF copy
  • West,  K. L., W. A. Walker, R. W. Baird, J. G. Mead, P. W. Collins. 2017. Diet of Cuvier’s beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris from the North Pacific and a comparison with their diet world-wide. Marine Ecology Progress Series DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12214. Download PDF copy
  • Forney, K.A., B.L. Southall, E. Slooten, S. Dawson, A.J. Read, R.W. Baird and R.L. Brownell Jr. 2017. Nowhere to go: noise impact assessments for marine mammal populations with high site fidelity. Endangered Species Research doi: 10.3354/esr00820 Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., D. Cholewiak, D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, S.D. Mahaffy, C. Curtice, J. Harrison and S.M. Van Parijs. 2015. Biologically important areas for cetaceans within U.S. waters – Hawai‘i region. Aquatic Mammals 41:54-64. Download PDF copy
  • Mahaffy, S.D., R.W. Baird, D.J. McSweeney, D.L. Webster and G.S. Schorr. 2015. Group structure and mating strategies of Cuvier’s (Ziphius cavirorstris) and Blainville’s (Mesoplodon densirostris) beaked whales off the island of Hawai‘i. Poster presented at the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, California, December 14-18, 2015. Download PDF copy
  • Foltz, K., R.W. Baird, G.M. Ylitalo and B.A. Jensen. 2014. Cytochrome P4501A1 expression in blubber biopsies of endangered false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and nine other odontocete species from Hawai’i. Ecotoxicology. doi: 10.1007/s10646-014-1300-0. Download PDF copy
  • Barlow, J., P. Tyack, M. Johnson, R.W. Baird, G.S. Schorr, R.D. Andrews, and N. Aguilar de Soto. 2013. Trackline and point detection probabilities for acoustic surveys of Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 134:2486-2496. Download PDF copy
  • Klinck, H., D.K. Mellinger, K. Klinck, N.M. Bogue, J.C. Luby, W.A. Jump, G.B. Shilling, T. Litchendorf, A.S. Wood, G.S. Schorr and R.W. Baird. 2012. Near-real-time acoustic monitoring of beaked whales and other cetaceans using a Seaglider. PLoS ONE 7:e36128. Download PDF copy
  • Schorr, G.S., E.A. Falcone, D.J. Moretti, R.W. Baird, D.L. Webster, M.B. Hanson and R.D. Andrews. 2011.Satellite telemetry reaches new depths: a case study of the application of a new depth-linked satellite tag to study Cuvier’s beaked whales Poster presentation at the Fourth International Science Symposium on Bio-logging, Hobart, Tasmania, March 2011.
  • Baird, R.W., G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, M.B. Hanson and R.D. Andrews. 2010. Movements and habitat use of Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales in Hawai‘i: results from satellite tagging in 2009/2010. Report prepared under Order No. AB133F09SE4843 from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, CA. Download PDF copy
  • Faerber, M.M., and R.W. Baird. 2010. Does a lack of observed beaked whale strandings in military exercise areas mean no impacts have occurred? A comparison of stranding and detection probabilities in the Canary and main Hawaiian Islands. Marine Mammal Science doi:10.1111/j.1748-7692.2010.00370x. Download PDF copy. The definitive version is available at Wiley InterScience
  • Baird, R.W. 2009. Beaked whale science coming of age: progress from Hawai‘i. Whalewatcher (Journal of the American Cetacean Society) 38(1)18-22. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster, S.D. Mahaffy, D.J. McSweeney, M.B. Hanson, and R.D. Andrews. 2009.Movements of satellite-tagged Cuvier’s and Bainville’s beaked whales in Hawai‘i: evidence for an offshore population of Blainville’s beaked whales. Report prepared under Contract No. AB133F-08-SE-4534 from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, California. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., D.J. McSweeney, G.S. Schorr, S.D. Mahaffy, D.L. Webster, J. Barlow, M.B. Hanson, J.P. Turner and R.D. Andrews. 2009. Studies of beaked whales in Hawai‘i: population size, movements, trophic ecology, social organization and behaviour. ECS Special Publication 51:23-25. Download PDF copy
  • Hooker, S.K., R.W. Baird, and A. Fahlman. 2009. Could beaked whales get the bends? Effects of diving behaviour and physiology on modelled gas exchange for three species: Ziphius cavirostris, Mesoplodon densirostris and Hyperoodon ampullatus. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 167:235-246. Download PDF copy.The definitive version is available at doi:10.1016/j.resp.2009.04.023.
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, D.J. McSweeney and J. Barlow. 2008. Diel variation in beaked whale diving behavior. Marine Mammal Science 24:630-642. Download PDF copy. The definitive version is available at Wiley InterScience
  • Schorr, G.S., R.W. Baird, M.B. Hanson, D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, and R.D. Andrews. 2008. Movements of the first satellite-tagged Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales in Hawai‘i. Report prepared under Contract No. AB133F-07-SE-3706 to Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, California. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, and D.J. McSweeney. 2007. Diel variation in beaked whale diving behavior. Final report prepared under Contract No. AB133F-06-CN-0053 to Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, Washington, from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, California.Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, D.J. McSweeney and J. Barlow. 2007. Diel variation in beaked whale diving behavior: physiological limitation or predation avoidance? Talk presented at the 17th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Cape Town, South Africa, November-December 2007. Download PDF copy of abstract
  • Baird, R.W., D.J. McSweeney, G.S. Schorr, S.D. Mahaffy, D.L. Webster, J. Barlow, M.B. Hanson and R.D. Andrews. 2007. Site fidelity and movements of Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales at three spatial/temporal scales: combining VHF radio tracking, satellite tagging and long-term photo-identification. Presentation at the 21st Annual conference of the European Cetacean Society, San Sebastian, Spain, April 24, 2007. Download PDF copy of abstract
  • Faerber, M.M., and R.W. Baird. 2007. Does a lack of beaked whale strandings in relation to military exercises mean no impacts have occurred? A comparison of stranding and detection probabilities in the Canary and Hawaiian Islands. Talk presented at the 17th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Cape Town, South Africa, November-December 2007. Download PDF copy of abstract
  • Faerber, M.M., and R.W. Baird. 2007. Beaked whale strandings in relation to military exercises: a comparison between the Canary and Hawaiian Islands. Presentation at the 21st Annual conference of the European Cetacean Society, San Sebastian, Spain, April 22-27, 2007. Download PDF copy of poster
  • McSweeney, D.J., R.W. Baird and S.D. Mahaffy. 2007. Site fidelity, associations and movements of Cuvier’s (Ziphius cavirostris) and Blainville’s (Mesoplodon densirostris) beaked whales off the island of Hawai‘i. Marine Mammal Science 23:666-687. Download PDF copy. The definitive version is available at Wiley InterScience
  • Schorr, G.S., R.W. Baird, D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, M.B. Hanson, R.D. Andrews and J. Barlow. 2007.Spatial distribution of Blainville’s beaked whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales, and short-finned pilot whales in Hawai’i using dorsal fin-attached satellite and VHF tags: implications for management and conservation. Talk presented at the 17th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Cape Town, South Africa, November-December 2007. Download PDF copy of abstract
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, A.D. Ligon, G.S. Schorr, and J. Barlow. 2006. Diving behaviour of Cuvier’s (Ziphius cavirostris) and Blainville’s (Mesoplodon densirostris) beaked whales in Hawai‘i. Canadian Journal of Zoology 84:1120-1128. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, and S.D. Mahaffy. 2006. Studies of beaked whale diving behavior and odontocete stock structure in Hawai‘i in March/April 2006. Report prepared under contract No. AB133F-06-CN-0053 to Cascadia Research from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, La Jolla, CA.Download PDF copy
  • Cox ,T.M., T.J. Ragen, A.J. Read, E. Vos, R.W. Baird, K. Balcomb, J. Barlow, J. Caldwell, T. Cranford, L. Crum, A. D’Amico, G. D’Spain, A. Fernández, J. Finneran, R. Gentry, W. Gerth, F. Gulland, J. Hildebrand, D. Houser, T. Hullar, P.D. Jepson, D. Ketten, C.D. MacLeod, P. Miller, S. Moore, D. Mountain, D. Palka, P. Ponganis, S. Rommel, T. Rowles, B. Taylor, P. Tyack, D. Wartzok, R. Gisiner, J. Mead, L. Benner. 2006. Understanding the impacts of anthropogenic sound on beaked whales. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 7:177-187. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W. 2006. Hawai’i’s other cetaceansWhale and Dolphin Magazine 11:28-31. Download PDF/files/Projects/Hawaii/Baird2006HawaiiodontocetesWDMag.pdf
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, A.D. Ligon, G.S. Schorr and J. Barlow. 2005. Diving behavior of Cuvier’s and Blainville’s beaked whales: implications for mass-strandings in relation to high-intensity sonar.Presentation at the 16th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Diego, CA, December 2005.
  • Baird, R.W., D.L. Webster, D.J. McSweeney, A.D. Ligon and G.S. Schorr. 2005. Diving behavior and ecology of Cuvier’s (Ziphius cavirostris) and Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) in Hawai‘i. 2005. Report prepared under Order No. AB133F-04-RQ-0928 to Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, La Jolla, CA. Download PDF copy
  • Baird, R.W., D.J. McSweeney, A.D. Ligon and D.L. Webster. 2004. Tagging feasibility and diving of Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) and Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) in Hawai‘i. Report prepared under Order No. AB133F-03-SE-0986 to the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, Volcano, HI, from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, La Jolla, CA, 92037 USA. Download PDF copy
  • Willis, P.M., and R.W. Baird. 1998. Sightings and strandings of beaked whales on the west coast of Canada. Aquatic Mammals 24:21-25. Download PDF copy

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Updated May 2023. 

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Got photos? We have photo-ID catalogs for several Hawaiian cetacean species! If you have photos that you would be willing to share, you can learn how to submit those to us at this link, or contact us at Hawaii@cascadiaresearch.org