There are about 20 different species of beaked whales in the world’s oceans. Their key distinguishing feature is the presence of a ‘beak’, somewhat similar to that of most dolphin species. Beaked whales are highly specialised to dive to great depths and remain submerged for prolonged periods—20 to 30 minutes is common, and 85 minute dives have been recorded. Look for beaked whales between May and November when they make their annual migration along the NSW coastline.
Complex throat muscles help these animals suck their prey in, since they lack teeth for feeding. The teeth that some species of beaked whales do have are usually only used for fighting with other males.
These animals are so elusive that most of what we know about them comes from stranded animals. In NSW, the strap-toothed beaked whale is one of the most commonly stranded species of beaked whales. Size-wise, beaked whales range from four to 13m in length and can weigh from one to 15 tonnes. Although the diet of beaked whales varies between and within species, squid are a key component of their overall diet.
For the best spots where you might be lucky enough to see a beaked whale, check out the Wild About Whales top spots.