Northern Bottlenose Whale

By 11/04/2020Mammals

Northern Bottlenose Whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, are endemic to the North Atlantic Ocean and have an estimated population of at least 10 000 individuals. They are the largest beaked whales that can be spotted in Azores.

Northern Bottlenose Whale spy-hopping. Photo credit: Pierre Jaquet.



  • Latin name : Hyperoodon ampullatus
  • Suborder : Odotonceti
  • Family: Ziphiidae
  • Length : up to 10 meters
  • Weight : up to 3.6 tons
  • Dive time : up to 120 minutes
  • Dive depth: up to 1 400 meters
  • IUCN Status: Data deficient

Worldwide distribution of Northern and Southern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon spp.). Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals IIIrd Ed. Bernd Würsig, I. G. M. Thewissen & KIT M. Kovacs



Color: Dark-brown Back, and slightly paler belly. Usually old males have a white patch on their head.
Head: pronounced sexual dimorphism: small melon and uniform color (female); distinctive bulbous melon and white patch on the head (male).
Fins: Falciform dorsal fin on the two-thirds of the back.
Teeth: One pair of teeth at the tip of the lower jaw (mature male).




Northern Bottlenose Whale mainly feed on squid, but also on small fish and benthic organisms.



Sexual maturity is reached at the age of 8-14 years (female) and 7-9 years old (male).The gestation lasts about 12 months. Females usually give birth every 2-3 years. At birth, calves measure around 3 meters in length. Mating and calving occurs in April-Juin.


They are usually in pod of 4-10 individuals. Northern Bottlenose Whales live in mixed age groups during the reproductive season. Scarring is typical, especially on males, due to social aggressive behavior.


Northern Bottlenose Whale adult males pod. Photo credit: Andreas Maeker.


The Northern Bottlenose Whales’ communication behavior seem restricted to high frequencies whistles (24 kHertz) and echolocation clicks. You can listen to their calls in this recording from Canadian waters.



Top cover illustrations by Uko Gorter. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals IIIrd Ed. Bernd Würsig, I. G. M. Thewissen & KIT M. Kovacs.

About Marylou

Marylou is a Marine Biologist and Master in Oceanography. She is one of our Marine Wildlife Guide and is responsible for Science Education at TERRA AZUL. Originally from France, she studied in Canada and Belgium and loves being out to sea to share her knowledge with you.

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