Berardius arnuxii is one of the largest members of the family Ziphiidae ranging from 8 to 12 m in length, they are second in size only to Berardius bairdii. They have long, tubular bodies and blunt or rounded flippers. The dorsal fin is set far back on the body and is relatively small for a beaked whale (about 3% of the total body length). It has a straight leading edge and concave trailing edge. They have a prominent melon which slopes down into the distinctive ‘beak’ or ‘bottlenose’ of ziphiids. The lower jaw protrudes past the upper jaw. A pair of triangular shaped teeth are present on this protrusion while a second pair of peg-like teeth sit farther back behind a short diastema. These two pairs of teeth are characteristic of the genus Berardius and erupt in both males and females when the individual reaches sexual maturity. A deep V-shaped groove on the throat that consists of folds in the skin and blubber is also distinctive of Berardius. Their blow is a single small puff which is fairly indistinct.
Juveniles are slate grey, while older, sexually mature individuals range from very dark to light grey and are generally lighter on the head. Some individuals may appear brown or green colored due to diatoms attached to the skin. Numerous white scars are apparent on sexually mature individuals and seem to accumulate with time as older individuals have more scarring than their younger counterparts. A greater amount of scarring is also seen on larger individuals. The scars are linear or curved scratch marks occurring on the head, back and sides. Other scar types such as ovals and irregular patches are occasionally seen. No difference in scarring between males and females is apparent. Most of these marks are presumably caused by scratches from the protruding teeth of conspecifics and other objects in their environment such as rock and sea ice. See the Behavior section for more information on conspecific scarring.
Berardius arnuxii is almost identical in appearance to Berardius bairdii. The only real difference is the smaller size of B. arnuxii, but there is considerable overlap in size between the two species. However, the ranges of these two species do not overlap, which greatly simplifies identification.
Range length: 8 to 12 m.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike