Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris Cuvier, 1823

Suborder: Odontoceti Family: Ziphiidae

Sightings in Madeira

May to July

ID characteristics

Colour may vary from dark grey to reddish-brown all over the rotund body, except head which is often pale
The whitish head has a goose-beak profile with a smooth-sloping forehead to an indistinct beak and no obvious melon.
Short, upturned mouthline which looks like a “smile”

Surface behaviour

Generally avoids boats but might be inquisitive to slow moving vessels
Breaching is not very common though it has been observed. Body rises almost vertically and gets completely out of water, before falling down awkwardly,
When swimming fast animals may expose head


All around the world, between parallels 60º North and 50º South
Worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters


Alone (normally old males) or in small groups up to 10 individuals


Squid and fish


Max length: 7m
Adult weight: 2 to 3 ton


Short (less than 1 m) and bushy shaped, projected slightly forward. Often not visible.

IUCN Status: Least concerned
Madeira frequency status: Common

Other languages common names

ENG - Goose-beaked Whale
GER - Cuvier-Schnabelwal
FRA - Baleine de Cuvier, Ziphius, Baleine à bec de Cuvier, Baleine à bec d'oie
ESP - Ballenato de Cuvier, Zifio
SWE - Småhuvudval
DAN - Småhovedet hval
ITA - Zifio, Balena dal becco d'oca
NED - Dolfijn van Cuvier
NOR - Gåsenebbhval, Cuviers nebbhval
POL - Wal Cuviera
POR - Baleia de Bico de Cuvier, Zífio, Baleia-bicuda-de-cuvier

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