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FishMammalsSpecies Animal

Mesoplodon europaeus

Mesoplodon europaeus

Gervais’s beaked whale or Antillean beaked whale, Gulf Stream beaked whale, European beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus Gervais, 1855) is a cetacean belonging to the Ziphiidae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Animalia,
Phylum Chordata,
Mammalia class,
Order Cetacea,
Suborder Odontoceti,
Ziphiidae family,
Genus Mesoplodon,
Species M. europaeus.
The term is basionym:
– Dioplodon europaeus Gervais, 1855.
The terms are synonymous:
– Dioplodon gervaisi Deslongchamps, 1866;
– Mesoplodon gervaisi (Deslongchamps, 1866);
– Neoziphius europaeus Gray, 1871;
– Nodus europaeus Hershkovitz, 1961.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Mesoplodon europaeus is a toothed cetacean that since its discovery in England has been found off the coast of Ireland, the Canary Islands, West Africa and Ascension Island. In August 2001, a specimen was found outside São Paulo (the southernmost specimen found to date), and recently, on May 4, 2011, a specimen was found washed up on the coast of the island of Puerto Rico, which he had about 5 kg of plastic bags in his stomach. situation that could have caused his death.
The species is believed to be naturally rare and no population estimates have been attempted.
Although this species strands frequently, no one had made a confirmed sighting of the species until 1998 and sightings remain rare.

Description –
Mesoplodon europaeus is a cetacean larger in size than other mesoplodons but with a more gracile, elongated and laterally compressed shape.
Males measure 4.5 meters in length; females reach 5.2 meters and probably weigh more than 1200 kg. The hatchlings are thought to be 2.1 meters long.
The profile of the mouth, even in males, is very narrow, and the two teeth of the male, clearly visible, emerge towards the tip of the rostrum.
The head is small and has a tapered profile. Only the melon is slightly protruding.
The color is dark gray on the back and lighter gray on the belly. Females sometimes have lighter spots near the genitals and on the face, with a dark circle around the eyes.
The young are born with a lighter color, but darken very soon.
One stranded specimen was 48 years old.

Biology –
Mesoplodon europaeus is a cetacean whose biology is known little.
In fact, very little information is available, but it is believed that females are sexually mature when they reach the size of 4.5 m.
As with all cetaceans, the young are precocious after birth and measure approximately 2.1 m in length at birth.
It is known that in the wild it lives at least 27 years.

Ecological Role –
Between 1836 and 1841, the captain of one of the ships of the French merchant and gunsmith Abel Vautier came across a large animal floating at the entrance to the English Channel, the body of which was covered by a swarm of seagulls. He cut off the head and transported it to Caen, where he presented it to Vautier. Vautier in turn offered it to the anatomist Deslongchamps. The specimen somehow found its way to the French scientist Paul Gervais, who described it as a new species in 1855. For several decades it remained the only known specimen of this species, with many ignoring its specific status and claiming that it simply represented an aberrant Sowerby’s adult beaked whale. The identity of the species was confirmed by the discovery of two specimens from New Jersey, an immature male captured near Atlantic City in 1889 and an adult female found stranded on North Long Branch in 1905.
The Mesoplodon europaeus is a species that, judging from the strandings, occurs in small groups.
A sighting made in 1998, west of the island of Tenerife, involved three specimens swimming in water 1500 meters deep. Another small group was spotted south of the island of Gran Canaria. Although shy, the specimens allowed close-up photos. They surfaced for a short time and their dives lasted about an hour.
In September 2008, north-east of the island of Lanzarote, some specimens were photographed coming out of the water.
On May 5, 2011, a young female specimen was found dead and beached in Playa Larga of Maunabo, in the southeast corner of Puerto Rico (Caribbean Sea). The young woman had a stomach full of plastic bags.
On July 10 of the same year, a specimen was found dead in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. Further investigations are underway to confirm the species of this case.
Although this cetacean has been spotted in various parts, it is not a migratory species. There is no data on the population of the species, nor on its conservation status.
It probably feeds on squid.
The species has not been hunted and only very rarely gets entangled in fishing nets. This cetacean is protected by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North-East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and by the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic contiguous area (ACCOBAMS). The species is also included in the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the conservation of manatees and small cetaceans of West Africa and Macaronesia.

Guido Bissanti

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Louisy P., 2016. Guide to the identification of marine fishes of Europe and the Mediterranean. Il Castello Editore, Milan.
– Nikiforos G., 2008. Fauna of the Mediterranean. Giunti Editore, Florence.

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