Cuviers Beaked Whales

The Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) is a large-sized odontocete with adults reaching between 5.5 and 7m in length. Of all the beaked whales the Cuvier’s beaked whale has the widest distribution range: global, only absent in polar waters.

Historic information regarding the distribution and occurrence of this species in the Adriatic Sea is scarce. Based on stranded animals this species was considered occasional/rare. A relatively recent review on the occurrence of the species in the Adriatic suggested that the southern Adriatic Sea could actually be an important habitat for Cuvier’s beaked whale. Historical and new information on their sighting (2010-2013) and stranding (1986-2014) distribution reflects the Cuvier’s beaked whale preference for deep waters, slope and canyons of the central and southern Adriatic.

Aerial survey data, including the recent NETCET survey in 2013, confirmed the presence of Cuvier ́s beaked whales in the southern portion of the basin. In total, five sightings were made in 2010 and 2013. Sightings occurred in waters with depths between 700-1200m in the areas of steep bathymetry. It is notable that sightings are grouped along the northern and eastern part of the south Adriatic basin where there is almost a direct drop to the depth of 1000m. Sightings, included females with juvenile animals (suckling animal), indicating the southern Adriatic as important area for this species.