Northern Bottlenose Whale

These naturally friendly whales, heavily hunted in the early 1900s due to their trusting disposition, are among the deepest-diving mammals in the world

Northern Bottlenose Whale

Region: Arctic

Destinations: Svalbard

Name: Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)

Length: 10 to 12 metres.

Weight: 5,800 to 7,500 kilograms.

Location: Northern to Mid-Atlantic Ocean.

Conservation status: Data Deficient.

Diet: Squid, fish, shrimp, sea cucumbers, starfish.

Appearance: Brown or black with lighter shade on underside. Beaks are prominent and coloured lighter than the rest of the body. Small sickle-shaped dorsal fin set well back on the body. Prominent melon.

How do Northern Bottlenose Whales feed?

Northern Bottlenose Whales are deep divers, able to spend almost two hours at a time underwater, although the usual dive is only about ten minutes long.

Are Northern Bottlenose Whales social?

Northern Bottlenose Whales will form small groups to socialise with each other in small groups of 4 to 20 members. These groups are usually segregated by sex.

They are quite friendly and curious when it comes to humans.

Picture by Troels Jacobsen

How fast do Northern Bottlenose Whales swim?

While cruising a Northern Bottlenose Whale swims at about 5 km per hour. They can however burst up to as much as 27 km per hour for short sprints.

What are Northern Bottlenose Whale birthing rituals like?

Northern Bottlenose Whales mature sexually at around 8 years of age. The females will give birth to a single calf every 2 or so years. The breeding season occurs between April and August, with the pregnancy lasting 12 months.

When born the calves are about 3 metres in length and weigh around 300 kg.

How long do Northern Bottlenose Whales live?

Northern Bottlenose Whales live around 35 years.

How many Northern Bottlenose Whales are there today?

There are no concrete numbers, but estimates place the Northern Bottlenose Whale population at anything between 10,000 and 45,000.

Do Northern Bottlenose Whales have any natural predators?

It’s not entirely clear if Northern Bottlenose Whales are killed by other animals, though they have been spotted with scars from shark bites.

Picture by Troels Jacobsen

7 Bountiful Northern Bottlenose Whale Facts

  • Northern Bottlenose Whales are one of the deepest-diving mammals known, able to dive as deep as 1453 metres.
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales prefer deep waters and rarely venture into areas that are shallower than 800 metres.
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales were heavily hunted around the early 1900s. Their friendly disposition made them easy targets. They also tended to stay near other wounded whales, getting themselves caught in the process.
  • The scientific name ampullatus comes from the Latin word ampulla which means “bottle” or “flask”.
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales are the largest members of the beaked whale family (Ziphiidae).
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales sometimes sport shark bite scars that look somewhat like cookie cutter impressions.
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales have two teeth in their bottom jaw, but they only emerge on the males.

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