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Shepherd's Beaked Whale

Shepherd's Beaked Whale'
Scientific Classification
Binomial name
Tasmacetus shepherdi

Shepherd's Beaked Whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi) also commonly called the Tasman Beaked Whale or simply the Tasman Whale is a cetacean of the family Ziphidae. The whale has hardly been studied at all. No certain identification has been made at sea and only 20 specimens have been recorded stranded.

Physical description

Shepherd's Beaked Whale had a long beak which narrows to a pointed tip and a bluff melon. The body is about seven metres long and the dorsal fin is located about two-thirds the way along the back. The fin is falcate. The back is coloured dark brown to black with lighter patches on the sides and a light underside.

Population and distribution

No population estimates exist for Shepherd's Beaked Whale. As of 1998, 12 stranded specimens had been collected from New Zealand, 3 from Argentina, 2 from the Juan Fernandez, 1 from Australia and 1 from the Sandwich Islands. There have been two reports of live sightings - one in New Zealand and one from the Seychelles.


No information is available about group sizes, diving pattern or migatory patterns. The paucity of information may be due to the species having a very shy manner, or its rarity, or both.


There are no reports of this species being hunted or killed accidentally by man.


  1. Shepherd's Beaked Whale in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals Thomas A. Jefferson, 1998. ISBN 0125513402
  2. National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Reeves et al, 2002. ISBN 0375411410.
  3. Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises Carwardine, 1995. ISBN 0751327816