Identifying and Reporting Northern Bottlenose 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 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"