Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population)
- No Status NS
- Special Concern SC
- Threatened TH
- Endangered EN
- Extirpated EX
|Not at Risk
- Not at Risk NR
- Special Concern SC
- Threatened TH
- Endangered EN
- Extirpated EX
The Northern Bottlenose Whale is a medium-sized whale. Adults typically measure seven to nine metres in length. Distinctive characteristics of the species include:
- A large bulbous forehead and prominent beak
- Grey or brown colouring
- A small dorsal fin approximately two-thirds of the way down the back
Adult males can be distinguished from females or juvenile males by the following characteristics:
- Adult males have larger, flatter foreheads that tend to get whiter with age
- Adult males may have a single pair of erupted teeth in the lower jaw
The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales inhabits deep waters (>500 metres) along the continental slope off of Nova Scotia and southeastern Newfoundland. The majority of sightings to date have been in three adjacent submarine canyons on the Eastern Scotian Shelf: the Gully, Shortland Canyon, and Haldimand Canyon. In 2010, these canyons were identified as critical habitat for the population under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).
The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales is genetically distinct from the more northerly Baffin Bay-Davis Strait-Labrador Sea population, which was assessed by COSEWIC as Special Concern in 2011.
The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales is small, with an estimated 143 animals. Current threats to the population include (in no particular order) entanglement, oil and gas activities, acoustic disturbance, contaminants, changes in food supply, and vessel strikes. Anthropogenic (human-caused) noise is of particular concern since Northern Bottlenose Whales rely on sound to carry out their life functions, including foraging, socializing, and navigation. The deep-diving behaviour of these whales may make them especially vulnerable to physiological impacts from acoustic disturbance.
A recovery strategy for the Scotian Shelf population was published on the Species at Risk Public Registry in May 2010, and a report on the progress of recovery strategy implementation is now available. The final version of the action plan, which includes detailed recovery measures to address threats and knowledge gaps, has been published on the Species at Risk Public Registry.
The Gully was designated a Marine Protected Area under the Oceans Act in 2004. The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales has likely benefitted from the high level of protection afforded to this core habitat area.
DFO and its partners, including academic scientists, the private sector, and other government departments, have been researching and monitoring this population for many years. This work has led to a better understanding of Northern Bottlenose Whale vocalizations, behaviour, habitat use, and population dynamics. For example, acoustic data was collected from 2012 to 2014 at three sites located within and between the three canyons. These data will help establish baseline information about Northern Bottlenose Whale presence and vocalizations. These data will also help determine ambient noise levels in their critical habitat areas. In addition, photo-identification has allowed scientists to track individuals and accurately determine the population size and trend.
To learn more about the Gully ecosystem and Northern Bottlenose Whales: The Gully Marine Protected Area: A Diversity of Life and a Sanctuary for Whales.
For more information on marine mammals and species at risk, visit Species at Risk Public Registry.
To report Northern Bottlenose Whale sightings, please contact DFO:
To report Northern Bottlenose Whale incidents (e.g. dead, entangled, or injured animals), please call one of the following toll-free hotlines as soon as possible:
In the Maritimes:
1-866-567-6277 (Marine Animal Response Society)
In Newfoundland and Labrador:
1-888-895-3003 (Tangly Whales)
DFO Research Scientist, Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy, studies and monitors whales in Eastern Canada. She uses rare video footage and photos to show you how to identify Northern Bottlenose Whales on the water and report your sighting.
Narrator: "Fisheries and Oceans Canada presents: Identifying and Reporting Northern Bottlenose Whales. DFO Research Scientist, Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy, studies and monitors whales in Eastern Canada. She offers the following information on Northern Bottlenose Whales and how to identify them on the water. And Hilary hopes you will help monitor these whales and report all sightings."
Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy: "Northern Bottlenose Whales off the eastern Coast of Nova Scotia and southern coast of Newfoundland are endangered. Though they resemble Bottlenose Dolphins, Northern Bottlenose Whales are in fact large toothed whales, belonging to the family Ziphidae, or the beaked whales. Adults are 8-10 meters long or up to 30 feet. They have prominent, bottle-shaped beaks. Their color ranges from light to dark grey to brown. They also have rounded dorsal fins about two-thirds of the way down their backs. Their blow is small and bushy. Northern Bottlenose Whale calves, or babies, tend to be darker in color. The females and younger males have rounded foreheads. Older males have flat white foreheads and their foreheads get whiter with age. When Northern Bottlenose Whales surface, their forehead and blow are seen first and then their dorsal fin. They rarely raise their flukes, or tail, when diving. Like other beaked whales, Northern Bottlenose Whales do not have a notch in the middle of their tail flukes. Northern Bottlenose Whales tend to be found in deep water areas. Submarine canyon habitats off the Eastern Coast of Nova Scotia are especially important to Northern Bottlenose Whales. These whales are frequently found in the Gully, Shortland and Haldimand canyons of the Eastern Scotian Shelf; however, they may also appear in other areas off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
"Please help DFO monitor Northern Bottlenose Whales and report all sightings. Remember to provide important details about your sighting, including the number and type of whales seen, the date and time, and the location, such as your latitude and longitude. When possible, please share your photos and videos as well. To report Northern Bottlenose Whale sightings, please call 1-844-800-8568 or email XMARWhaleSightings@dfo-mpo.gc.ca. If you see entangled, injured or dead Bottlenose Whales, please contact the Marine Animal Response Society as soon as possible at 1-866-567-6277 or VHF Channel 16 or email email@example.com."
Scientific name: Hyperoodon ampullatus
SARA Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Regions: Atlantic Ocean
Northern Bottlenose Whales are among the deepest-diving mammal species in the world, with dive depths often exceeding 1000 metres. The deepest dive recorded for the species was over 2300 metres.
Report on the Progress of Recovery Strategy Implementation for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), Scotian Shelf Population, in Atlantic Canadian Waters for the Period 2010-2015 (2016)
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