Mesoplodon traversii (Gray,
English: Spade-toothed beaked whale
Spanish: Zifio de Travers, ballena picuda de Travers
French: Baleine à bec de Travers
Provisional drawing of Mesoplodon traversii ©Wurtz-Artescienza
Only 3 specimens were found to date and no description of external
features is available. The skull of an subadult specimen from Chile
was estimated to belong to an animal of ca. 5.0 - 5.5m long (Reyes
et al. 1995). Described in 1874 based on a damaged mandible and
teeth, M. traversii was synonymized in 1878 with Layard's
beaked whale M.
layardii by James Hector (van Helden et al. 2002) leading
to the species vanishing from scientific literature for almost 120
In 1995, researchers in South America who collected an enigmatic
skull from Isla Mas a Tierra in Chile's Juan Fernández Archipelago
concluded that it belonged to an unrecognized mesoplodont which
they described as Bahamonde's beaked whale M. bahamondi Reyes,
Van Waerebeek, Cárdenas and Yañez, 1995. Further comparative
morphological and mt-DNA studies revealed that M. bahamondi
was in fact the long-forgotten M. traversii, which name,
a senior synonym, was then resurrected (van Helden et al., 2002).
The teeth alveoli straddle the posterior end of the mandibular symphysis
and the broad teeth carry a prominent denticle (van Helden et al.,
Probably a South Pacific and possibly even circumantarctic species
(Jefferson et al. 2008). The three specimens identified to date
stem from Isla Robinson Crusoe (Isla Más a Tierra) in the
Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile (Reyes et al., 1995 ),
White Island (New Zealand) and Pitt Island (Chatham Islands)(van
Helden et al., 2002). M. traversii is the name originally given
to a mandible and teeth recovered in New Zealand in 1874 (van Helden
et al. 2002).
Possible distribution of Mesoplodon traversii
(Taylor et al. 2008; © IUCN; enlarge
All known specimens stem from the South Pacific (van Helden et al.,
3. Population size
4. Biology and Behaviour
Range states: Chile and New Zealand (Taylor et al. 2008).
The species is categorised as "Data Deficient" by IUCN
and is not listed by CMS. Listed in Appendix II of CITES.
8. Sources and further information
Mesoplodon - Beaked whales: Introduction and Sources"
© Boris Culik (2010) Odontocetes.
The toothed whales: "Mesoplodon traversii". UNEP/CMS
Secretariat, Bonn, Germany. http://www.cms.int/reports/small_cetaceans/index.htm
© Illustrations by Maurizio Würtz, Artescienza.
© Maps by IUCN.