U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Marine Mammal Science (2006) 22(3): 744-755. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2006.00066.x


Shepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi), one of the least known cetaceans in the world (Mead 1989, 2002), is currently represented by approximately 42 stranding records and 5 unconfirmed live sightings. Most of the strandings have been from New Zealand (including the Chatham Islands—24 records), but also the Juan Fernandez Islands (2), Argentina (7), Tristan da Cunha (6), and Australia (3) (Fig. 1). A stranding reported from the South Sandwich Islands (Mead 2002) was actually a “probable” at-sea sighting near Shag Rocks (position of sighting: 53°45'S, 42°30' W) reported by Laughlin (1996, see below), and purported strandings from South Africa (e.g., Rice 1998, Reeves et al. 2002) are in error and probably refer instead to records from Tristan da Cunha. Based on stranding records and the known habitat preferences of beaked whales in general, T. shepherdi is assumed to have a circumpolar distribution in deep, cold temperate waters of the Southern Ocean (Mead 1989, 2002).