Northern bottlenose whale

Northern bottlenose whale
Northern bottlenose whale
Size comparison of a Northern Bottlenose Whale against an average human
Conservation status
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Family: Ziphiidae
Subfamily: Hyperoodontinae
Genus: Hyperoodon
Lacépède, 1804
  • Hyperoodon ampullatus (Forster, 1770)
Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) range

The Northern bottlenose whale is a species of the ziphiid family, one of two members of the Hyperoodon genus. The northern bottlenose was hunted heavily by Norway and Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Physical description

The two species are fairly rotund and measure 9.8 metres (32 ft) in length when physically mature. The melon is extremely bluff. The beak is long and white on males but grey on females. The dorsal fin is relatively small at 30–38 centimetres (12–15 in) and set behind the middle of the back. It is falcate (sickle-shaped) and usually pointed. The back is mid-to-dark grey. They have a lighter underside.

Weight estimates are hard to come by. For the northern bottlenose whale, 5,800–7,500 kilograms (13,000–17,000 lb) is given somewhat consistently.[1][2]


Northern bottlenose feed mainly on squid and fish.

Population and distribution

The northern bottlenose whale is endemic to the North Atlantic Ocean and is found in cool and subarctic waters such as the Davis Strait, the Labrador Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Barents Sea. They prefer deep waters. The total population is unknown but likely to be of the order of 10,000. "The Gully", a huge submarine canyon east of Nova Scotia, has a year-round population of around 160 whales.

On 20 January 2006, a northern bottlenose whale was spotted in Central London in the River Thames.[3] The River Thames whale reached as far up river as Albert Bridge. It was moved onto a barge and rescuers hoped to take it out to sea, but it died following a convulsion on 21 January during its rescue. Its skeleton is now in the Natural History Museum in London.[4]

The northern bottlenose whale, stranding in Nes, Hvalba 24 August 2009


Prior to the beginning of whaling of northern bottlenoses it is estimated that there were 40,000–50,000 individuals in the North Atlantic. Between 1850 and 1973, 88,000 individuals were caught, primarily by Norwegian and British whalers. The population is very likely to be much reduced compared to pre-whaling figures. Since whaling ended the primary concern to conservationists is the number of oil and gas developments around the Gully.

Norway stopped hunting the whale in 1973 but northern bottlenose whales are still hunted in the Faroe Islands, especially in the villages of Hvalba and Sandvík on Suðuroy.

The northern bottlenose whale is listed on Appendix II [5] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II [5] as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.

In addition, the Northern bottlenose whale is covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS), and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU).


  1. ^ Northern Bottlenose Whale, Hyperoodon ampullatus at
  2. ^ ADW: Hyperoodon ampullatus: Information
  3. ^ "Whale spotted in central London". BBC. 20 January 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  4. ^ "Lost whale dies after rescue bid". BBC. 21 January 2006. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  5. ^ a b "Appendix II" of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). As amended by the Conference of the Parties in 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008. Effective: 5th March 2009.


  • Bottlenose Whales in the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals Shannon Gowans, 1998. ISBN 0-12-551340-2
  • National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World Reeves et al., 2002. ISBN 0-375-41141-0.
  • Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises Carwardine, 1995. ISBN 0-7513-2781-6
  • Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. Pitman, R.L. (2008). Hyperoodon ampullatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 27 February 2009.

External links

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