Sowerby’s Beaked Whale

Sowerby’s Beaked Whales, Mesoplodon bidens, is the slimmest species of Beaked Whale belonging to the Mesoplodon genus. Their scientific name, bidens, derives from Latin and refers to the pair of teeth present in mature males.

 

CHARACTERISTICS

  • Latin name : Mesoplodon bidens
  • Suborder : Odotonceti
  • Family: Ziphiidae
  • Length : up to 5.5 meters
  • Weight : up to 1.4 tons
  • Dive time : up to 30 minutes
  • Dive depth: up to 1 500 meters
  • IUCN Status: Data deficient

 

 

DESCRIPTION

Color: Uniform dark greyish /brownish back and a lighter ventral part.
Head: Rounded melon in front of the blowhole continues in an elongated and narrow.
Fins: Small, wide-based and triangular to falcate dorsal fin.
Teeth: A pair of teeth are positioned in the middle at the lower jaw (mature males).

 

Adult male spy-hopping with one of his teeth visible.

LIFE HISTORY

 

DIET

Sowerby’s Beaked Whales mainly feed on small and medium sized fish (around 15-20 cm). Occasionally they can prey on squids. Prey is captured by suction feeding.

 

REPRODUCTION

Sexual maturity is reached at the age of 9 years old. The gestation lasts about 12 months. At birth, calves measure around 2.5 meters in length. Mating is thought to occur in late winter with calving the following spring.

 

Relatively large pod with calf visible.

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

Sowerby’s Beaked Whales are solitary or found in groups of 2-10 individuals. As other Beaked Whales, Sowerby’s Beaked Whales generally surface quietly and unobtrusively. This species also breaches and has been observed tail-slapping and spy-hopping.

 

Photo credit: Pierre Nelly.

VOCAL BEHAVIOR

The main vocalizations recorded are echolocation clicks with mean picks frequencies that are associated to the presence of Sowerby’s Beaked Whales in the area.

 

Top cover illustrations source: NOAA.
Marylou

About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide at TERRA AZUL. She studied in Canada and Belgium, but is originally from France, and enjoys being out to sea everyday with whales & dolphins.

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