Feeding ecology of Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris): a review with new information on the diet of this species

Maria Begona Santos Vazquez, Graham John Pierce, J. Herman, A. Lopez, A. Guerra, Elena Mente, M. R. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Published information on the diet of Cuvier's beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris (Odontoceti: Ziphiidae) is reviewed and new information on the stomach contents of three animals: two stranded in Galicia (north-west Spain) in February 1990 at A Lanzada, and in February 1995 at Portonovo; and the third stranded in February 1999 in North Uist (Scotland), is presented. The whale stranded in 1990 was a male; the other two were adult females. All animals were > 5 in long.

The limited published information on the diet of this species indicates that it feeds primarily on oceanic cephalopods although some authors also found remains of oceanic fish and crustaceans.

Food remains from the three new samples consisted entirely of cephalopod beaks. The Scottish sample set is the largest recorded to date for this species. The prey identified consisted of oceanic cephalopods, mainly squid (Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea). The most frequently occurring species were the squid Teuthowenia megalops, Mastigoteuthis schmidti and Taonius pavo (for the Galician whale stranded in 1990), Teuthowenia megalops and Histioteuthis reversa (for the second Galician whale) and T megalops, Gonatus sp. and Taonius pavo (for the Scottish whale). Other prey included the squid Hishoteuthis bonnellii, Histioteuthis arcturi and Todarodes sagittatus as well as Vampiroteuthis infernalis (Cephalopoda: Vampyromorpha), Stauroteuthis syrtensis and Fapetella diaphana (Cephalopoda: Octopoda), The squid eaten (estimated from the measurement of the lower beaks) included juvenile and mature individuals of the most important species (Teuthowenia megalops, Gonatus sp.).

The range of species found in the diet of Z. cavirostris is greater than that reported for sperm whales and bottlenosed whales in the north-east Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • stomach contents
  • loligo-vulgaris
  • cephalopoda
  • sea
  • Atlantic
  • ommastrephidae
  • loliginidae
  • oegopsida
  • coast
  • food


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