The melon is prominent and bulbous and strongly demarcated from the rostrum. The mouthline is long and sinuous, curving upward posteriorly. The lower jaw extends further forward than the upper jaw, exposing the erupted teeth in both sexes.
Body color is slate gray to light brown. Often the head is slightly lighter in color. Linear scars are acquired over the body with age, sometimes giving a marbled appearance. Oval scars, usually from the cookie cutter shark, Isistius brasiliensis, can often be found mostly on the ventral side.
Length of adults ranges between 10-12 m. Recorded maximum body length for adult males and females is 12 m and 12.8 m, respectively. Length at birth is 4.5 - 4.6 m. Largest member of the beaked whale family.