25 Apr 2018

25 Apr 18 - Atlantic Odyssey - Day Twenty Seven: Blainville's Beaked Whales

The first full day of five at sea between Ascension Island & Cape Verde on the Atlantic Odyssey had already produced my first South Polar Skua & a couple of pods of Short-finned Pilot Whales. There were also at least six Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, but these were distant & were interested in hunting, rather than coming in to check out the Plancius. My photos are barely record photos. We did have one final Cetacean highlight: a couple of female Blainville's Beaked Whales. They were picked up fairly close to the Plancius, but were moving South & the Plancius did not stop to try & allow us to get better views. However, there was time to get some photos before they passed us. We had seen on one on 16 Apr on the crossing between Tristan da Cunha & St Helena, but I hadn't managed to get any photos on that occasion.
Blainville's Beaked Whale: I've been discussing the identification features of this individual with Marijke & she pointed out that the pale line shown in this photo is actually the raised jaw line which is diagnostic for Blainville's Beaked Whale. Hans managed to get a better photo of this jaw line. I had been concerned that there wasn't a lot of the characteristic pale spotting on this individual, but apparently that can be variable
Blainville's Beaked Whale
Blainville's Beaked Whale
Blainville's Beaked Whale
Blainville's Beaked Whales occur in temperate & tropical waters throughout the world & has the widest range of any of the Mesoplodon Beaked Whales. They occur around continental shelves, as well as, in deeper water. The largest Blainville's Beaked Whales are 4.7 metres long. They have relatively non-descript brownish-grey colouration and they typically have pale round or oval white scars & white scratch marks, especially on the males. They have a moderate sized beak. Males & females have an arched back of the jaw which is a diagnostic feature. Males also have tusks which protrude from the back of the jaw, so that the cheeks protrude above a flat-looking melon. The dorsal fin is small & located about two thirds along the length of the body.
Blainville's Beaked Whale: The first individual
Blainville's Beaked Whale: The dorsal fin of first individual finally breaking the surface
Blainville's Beaked Whale: Both individuals (with the first individual on the left)
Blainville's Beaked Whale: The beak of the second individual just breaks the surface
Blainville's Beaked Whale: The second individual
Blainville's Beaked Whale: The dorsal fin wasn't as obvious on the second individual
There was also a selection of Flying Fish & a few Portuguese Man-of-war seen.
Bandwing Flying Fish
Four-winged Flying Fish
Portuguese Man-of-war
I not sure what think this is: It looks like the remains of part of a dead Fish
Glenn either chimping or having a crafty kip whilst pretending to check his photos