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Kauai Beaked Whales

Of all whale species, relatively little is known about beaked whales. This is partly because of their reclusive, deep-water behavior and partly because there are apparently just so few of them, despite their widespread habitat range.

The key distinguishing feature of beaked whales is (not surprisingly) the presence of a “beak” that’s reminiscent of many dolphin species. If you can get a few of them together, it’s not difficult to differentiate the males from the females; the males are much larger in size. However, it’s more challenging to identify individual males or females, because there tends to be limited variation in the physical characteristics of beaked whales– they all look the same!

Beaked whales are some of the deepest divers in the ocean, regularly diving as deep as 1,600’ to echolocate for food, which they consume with a unique suction technique. When they come up for air, they do so slowly, and with little splashing, so they’re easy to miss.

The two species of beaked whale we’ve seen on our Kauai boat tours and Niihau boat tours are the Blainville Beaked Whale and the Cuvier Beaked Whale. Spotting these mysterious creatures isn’t common and is usually brief, but it’s very exciting and does happen from time to time, so keep your eyes peeled!

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