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Identifying and Reporting Sowerby’s Beaked 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 Sowerby’s Beaked Whales on the water and report your sighting.


Narrator: "Fisheries and Oceans Canada presents: identifying and reporting Sowerby's Beaked Whales. DFO Research Scientist, Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy, studies and monitors whales in Eastern Canada. She will help you spot these beaked whales. And maybe one day you will have an opportunity to tell Hilary when you see one."

Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy: "Sowerby's Beaked Whales are a species of Special Concern. Submarine canyon habitats off of Nova Scotia are important to Sowerby's Beaked Whales. These whales are regularly found in the Gully, Shortland and Haldimand canyons of the Eastern Scotian Shelf. Sowerby's beaked whales are a type of beaked whale with a long beak. They range from light to dark grey in color and some have long white scars along their backs. They also have rounded dorsal fins about two-thirds of the way down their backs. The blow of this animal is very small and usually not visible. Sowerby's Beaked Whale Calves, or babies, have shorter, darker beaks. The females do not have exposed teeth. The males usually have exposed teeth in their lower jaw and scarring along their back. Adult Sowerby's beaked whales can be up to five meters in length. When Sowerby's Beaked Whales come to the surface, we see their beaks first, and then their dorsal fin. They rarely raise their flukes, or tails, when diving.

"Please help DFO monitor Sowerby's Beaked Whales and report all sightings. Remember to provide important details about you 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 Sowerby's Beaked Whale sightings, please call 1-844-800-8568 or email If you see entangled, injured or dead whales please contact the Marine Animal Response Society as soon as possible at 1-866-567-6277 or VHF Channel 16 or email"

Video/photos courtesy of Whitehead Lab, Dalhousie University, Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy and Catalina Gomez.

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