…a species of beaked whale that occurs in the North Atlantic, ranging from the north sea to the northeastern United States to the west and Cape Verde to the east. H. ampullatus is a social species and is often seen in groups of around five to ten. They typically feed on deep-water squid and various species of fish. Unlike other whales H. ampullatus does not make seasonal migrations, and spends the whole year in cold water.
Currently Hyperoodon ampullatus is listed as data deficient but it still likely faces threats from hunting, prey depletion and pollution (both chemical and noise).
It’s time for whale of the week with your host, me!!
The Northern Bottlenose whale (hyperoodon ampullatus) is a rare north Atlantic Odontoceti (toothed whale) belonging to the family ziphiidae (beaked whales). It is well known for being the deepest diver of any mammal in the world, diving to known depths of 6,000 feet. Sadly that is one of the only things scientists know about this elusive and rare animal. Due to their declined numbers (thanks to whaling in the early part of the century), their ability to hold their breath for up to an hour or more. and their open ocean habitat, they are one of the hardest animals on the planet to study. Their small region extends from north America (off the coast of Maine) to northern Europe, and up towards the arctic. They are most commonly sighted off the coast of Nova Scotia in a marine sanctuary known as “The Gully” an under water canyon extending to depths of over 2 miles. There scientists have been able to record social structures, depths of dives, ages of male and female, distinct differences between genders, and their friendliness towards boats and other cetaceans. Due to their curiosity and willingness to approach boats they were hunted to near extinction and used for their meat in dog food and their spermaceti (a waxy substance found in the melon of the animal that allows them to dive to depths deeper then other cetaceans). These quirky whales can reach lengths up to 30 feet. They have a southern counter part named the Southern Bottlenose whale which share many of the same traits as their northern cousins.
Development of male Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) melon, with 1 being the oldest, 4 being the youngest and 5 being a female.
The next illustration has the same subject matter, although 120 years later. It’s fairly similar, although the oldest male head appears even more massive; amazingly, the Southern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon planifrons) apparently has an even larger melon, although is unfortunately rarely photographed.
Gray, D. (1882) Notes on the characters and habits of the bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon rostratus). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1882 726–731.
Hardy, M. (2005) Extent, Development and Function of Sexual Dimorphisms in the Skulls of the Bottlenose Whales (Hyperoodon spp.) and Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Master’s Thesis for University of Wales, Bangor.