Adult Male © Phil Coles

Quick Facts
Length 5.5m Distribution North Atlantic, Arctic Norway to northern Africa in the east and Newfoundland to Massachusetts in the west. One animal stranded in Florida was probably outside of its normal range. The population seems to be centred in the deep waters between Norway and the UK.
Weight 1,000 – 1,300 kg Identification Long, prominent beak, raise high upon surfacing and teeth in males further back on jaw line.
Diet Mostly deep sea fish and squid Threats By-catch and habitat destruction.
Group size 3-10  

Sowerby's Beaked Whale Head Profile Sowerby's Beaked Whale Surfacing
adult male © Phil Coles
One of the more frequently sighted Mesoplodon in north Atlantic, but still very little is known about it.

It’s average size and shape for a Mesoplodon – with a torpedo shaped body, small flippers and a dorsal placed two thirds along its back. It’s one of a few species with a very long beak, proportionally the longest amongst the other species that share its range. The beak of young animals is considerable shorter making them very hard to distinguish from the juveniles of other species. This distinguished profile, and the animals habit of raising its beak at a steep angle from the water mean that given a reasonable sighting it is possible to identify in the field. Added to this are the diagnostic teeth found only in mature males. These tusks are the only pair of teeth in the mouth and protrude through the gums about two thirds along the mouth-line, further back than in the similar size and shaped True’s and Gervai's with which is shares its range and with a less pronounced jaw arch and less massive teeth than Blainville’s.

Sowerby's Beaked Whale Juvenile
Juvenile © Phil Coles

Little is known about the social life of Sowerby’s but it has been seen in groups of mixed male and female composition. In their natural habitat Sowerby’s probably dive deep to feed on squid and fish, dive times of 12 to 28 minutes have been recorded so far.

This species is some times known as the North Sea beaked whale because the majority of strandings come from the coastline of the North Sea, however these are deep sea whales and it is unlikely that the shallow North Sea is part of its normal range. It is possible that the shallow waters act as a trap, confusing the whales, leading to them beaching.

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