Two of our whale watching trips over the last few days have had the special and exciting opportunity to view the elusive Sowerby's beaked whale!! A quick glimpse before diving again, but the unmistakable head made it clear it was beaked whales we were seeing!!
Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens), aka North Atlantic beaked whale, is a slender cetacean that measures between 4-5 m in length and weighs between 900-1,100 kg. They have 2 teeth in the lower jaw that protrude in males. The dorsal fin is small and curved with a rounded tip. The flukes are dark in color and unnotched. The flippers of Sowerby's beaked whale are curved and relatively long compared to other Mesoplodon species. Sowerby's beaked whales are slate to blue-gray on the dorsal side, lighter on the ventral side with occasional gray or white spots.
Little is known about Sowerby's beaked whale, however some have been observed surfacing head first at a steep angle after which the animal spends about 1 minute breathing. They then dive for 10-15 minutes, and have been observed resurfacing up to 800 external link m away.
Beaked Whales (Family Ziphiidae)
These medium-sized to moderately large whales have a single pair of grooves on the throat. There is a distinct snout, and often the few teeth present are visible only in adult males.
These whales are deep divers and are rarely seen. Many species are known only from a few specimens, and little is known about the life history and biology of the group. All members of this family, except Blainville's beaked whale, are difficult to distinguish from each other, and study by museum experts is usually necessary for identification.
Based on data collected from strandings, Sowerby's beaked whale, Mesoplodon bidens, is found in temperate and subartic waters in the eastern and western North Atlantic.
Sowerby's beaked whale likely feeds on squid, octopus and fish.