U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, 18(4):902-919 (October 2002).


Stomach contents were analyzed from 127 Baird’s beaked whales, Berardizls bairdii, taken in coastal waters of Japan. During late July-August of 1985- 1987, 1989, and 1991, 107 samples were collected from off the Pacific coast of Honshu. An additional 20 samples were collected from whales taken in the southern Sea of Okhotsk during late August-September of 1988 and 1989. Prey identification using fish otoliths and cephalopod beaks revealed the whales fed primarily on deep-water gadiform fishes and cephalopods in both regions. Prey species diversity and the percentage of cephalopods and fish differed between the two regions. Off the Pacific coast of Honshu the whales fed primarily on benthopelagic fishes (81.8%) and only 18.0% on cephalopods. Eight species of fish representing two families, the codlings (Moridae) and the grenadiers (Macrouridde), collectively made up 81.3% of the total. Thirty species of cephalopods representing 14 families made up 12.7%. In the southern Sea of Okhotsk, cephalopods accounted for 87.1% of stomach contents. The families Gonatidae and Cranchiidae were the predominant cephalopod prey, accounting for 86.7% of the diet. Gadiform fish accounted for only 12.9% of the diet. Longfin codling, Laernonma longipes, was the dominant fish prey in both regions. Depth distribution of the two commonly consumed fish off the Pacific coast of Honshu indicate the whales in this region fed primarily at depths ranging from 800 to 1,200 m.