whale watching accommodation in south africa

Europcar - Rent a lot more than a car

Whales and dolphins

SKEW BEAKED WHALE (HECTOR'S) Mesoplodon hector 

The first of these whales found stranded was in 1862. Until 1967, when 2 more specimens were stranded at the mouth of the lottering River in South Africa, and a fully adult animal turned up in Tasmania, it had been assumed that they were juvenile fourtooth whales. These made it possible to establish Mesoplodon hectori as a true beaked whale, rare but a species in its own right.

This whale has usually been known as Hector's beaked whale or the New Zealand beaked whale. The first is uninformative and the second, given the new finds in South America and South Africa, inappropriate. Nothing is known about its habits or appearance, so we have chosen a common name for it which reflects its only known peculiarity - the huge asymmetry of the skull - and we call it the Skew Beaked Whale.

Despite the existence now of at least 7 specimens in museum collections, nothing is known of the external appearance. Most of the material only came into the hands of zoologists as clean dry bones. The best recent chance of a description was lost with the South African specimens, which were found soon after stranding, but unfortunately the only soft parts saved were two flukes and a single flipper.
We can only assume that the Skew Beaked Whale is dark coloured, of normal beaked whale size and shape and with the usual small rounded flipper and notchless tail.
More information is urgently needed. It is a good idea to look all beaked whales in the mouth, watching for a male with a pair of roughly triangular teeth about 3 cm Gust over 1 inch) high, set back about the same distance from the tip of the lower jaw. The tooth sockets lie right on the suture which connects the sides of the lower jaw to each other. Only one other species, the Wonderful Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon mirus 19) has teeth like this on the front of the jaw, and they are set more widely in sockets to the sides of the central suture.

It is now known from strandings in the Falklands, South Africa, South Tasmania, and New Zealand, that this species must have a circumpolar distribution in all temperate waters of the southern hemisphere.