Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!

Four Arnoux’s Beaked Whales observed from Polarstern expedition

December 2006. Meike Scheidat & Linn Lehnert, the whale scientists on board of Polarstern, made a remarkable cetaceans sighting: Four Arnoux’s Beaked Whales (Berardius arnuxii), observed from the helicopter.

The Arnoux’s Beaked Whales is one of the least known species of the Beaked Whales family (Ziphidae), itself poorly known in general. Arnoux’s is one of the biggest species amongst beaked whales. The ones observed were probably 9 metres in length. These deep-sea feeding whales are particularly sensitive to underwater acoustic disturbances.

The pictures show a whole array of scars on their skin, which are already under investigation. It is thought that these scars could have been inflicted by orcas, their potential predators, or by squid, their most common prey. Other scars could be caused by cookie-cutter sharks, which would imply big migration between the subtropical waters where these sharks are found and the ice-edge (64°06' S) where they were observed.

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and in oceans of mid and high latitudes. The AWI coordinates polar research in Germany, and provides important infrastructure, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctic, for international science organisations.
Four Arnoux’s Beaked Whales, observed from the helicopter. PHoto: Gauthier Chapelle & Julian Gutt/Alfred Wegener Institute.