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A streamlined whale with an obviously protruding beak, slightly bulging forehead, small flippers and a small curved dorsal fin situated two thirds along the back. Males have a pair of teeth near the tip of the lower jaw. Colouration may vary from a light blue hue along the sides to light grey along the back and sides with a white underside.
Occasionally breaches and appears to travel in small groups. This species, in common with other beaked whale species, undertakes deep foraging dives.
Much of what is known about this species comes from stranding records. 14 whales have been recorded along the west coast from county Donegal to Cork, two of which were dissected and were found to be the first whales recorded globally having <5 mm microplastic pieces.