New diagnostic descriptions and distribution information for Shepherd's beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi) off Southern Australia and New Zealand

David M Donnelly, Paul Ensor, Peter Gill, Rohan H Clarke, Karen Evans, Michael C Double, Trudi Webster, Natalie T Schmitt

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi, Oliver 1937), of the family Ziphiidae, is one of the least known cetacean species in the world (Mead 1989, 2002). To date, information on the species distribution, behavior, and morphology has been acquired from a combination of a small number of aerial observations, vessel-based, at-sea sightings (with no accompanying photographs), and data collected from beach cast specimens (Sorensen 1933; Oliver 1937; Smith 1965; Mead and Payne 1975; Brownell et al. 1976; Watkins 1976; Mead 1989, 1992; Laughlin 1996; Grandiet al. 2005; Pitman et al. 2006). Differences in age classes encountered, and in the state of decomposition of stranded animals, have led to high variability in published accounts of the external pigmentation with consistent general descriptions of the features lacking. Thus, uncertainty remains concerning the diagnostic features of the species, particularly for identification at sea. In particular, the lack of photographic evidence from previous vessel-based sightings has precluded later scrutiny, resulting in uncertainty in how such data should be treated when, for example, describing the species’ distribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-840
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Mammal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Australia
  • description
  • distribution
  • New Zealand
  • Shepherd's beaked whale
  • Tasmacetus shepherdi

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