Northern Bottlenose Whale

Marine Creature:  Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus)

Kindly compiled by Planet Whale 

© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

General Description

A large species of beaked whale, Northern Bottlenose Whales are generally seen in pods moving slowly at the surface. Breaching has been observed occasionally. They’re quite distinctive in appearance due to their highly bulbous melon (forehead) and short, stubby beak. Most groups number between about 4-10 but as many as 20 individuals have been recorded and pods may loosely aggregate.


Northern Bottlenose Whales are restricted to the deep offshore waters of the northern North Atlantic, with the Bay of Biscay being towards the southernmost extent of their range. In recent years, this species has also been seen increasingly around the coasts of the UK and Ireland, although it remains very rare.

Interesting Facts

Adult males have a single pair of small conical teeth at the very tip of their lower jaws, in females and juveniles these rarely erupt and become visible.

  • Lifespan: at least 37 years
  • Food: mostly squid
  • Size: max 9.8m in length for the larger males and up to 7 tons
© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

Feeding & Hunting

Bottlenose whales feed mostly on squid in very deep waters, although juveniles may feed closer to the surface.

Conservation Status & International Protection

This is the only species of beaked whale to have been hunted commercially in the North Atlantic, with the depleted population finally being afforded protection in 1977. “The Gully” population is known to number around 130 animals. IUCN status “data deficient”.

© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

© Dylan Walker at Planet Whale

Best places in the world to see these creatures:

In Europe this species is seen irregularly from the Canary Islands and the Azores north to the Barents Sea. They can be seen in the Faroe Islands, but at the moment there are no whale watch operations in this area. A population is also known to reside in “the Gully” off Nova Scotia, Canada. See for more ideas plus ethical reviews and rating system for whale watching trips to see Northern Bottlenose whales

Organisation Profile:  Planet Whale

Orca7Description/Background of work

At the heart of Planet Whale is a belief that an encounter with a wild whale or dolphin reconnects us with the natural world in an amazing and powerful way. For one humbling moment we can be moved to tears or celebrating wildly as we stare through the thin veil of water that separates us from these magnificent animals.

Planet Whale understands that we all need such encounters to reawaken our sense of responsibility to the natural world; energising ourselves to act for the greater good. That is our first step – only when we have been inspired will we feel compelled to act. For this reason we promote responsible whale watching and have the largest online searchable database of whale and dolphin watch operators in the world – the public can review trips they’ve been on with regard to their sustainability, educational value and impact on the marine environment, amongst other things.

It is this global community that will change the way we view whales and dolphins forever. By harnessing the passion and ideas of individuals, we will achieve more to protect and defend our oceans than ever before.

Together we will: 

  • Give the people control so they can use it to help whales and dolphins.
  • Inspire change through a new global partnership.
  • Make whale watching more sustainable – and successful – than ever before!
  • Reach out to the world with colossal festivals for whales and dolphins.
  • Create innovative campaigns that harness the power of the web’s global community.

Volunteer/Paid Work Opportunities

We are always looking for passionate and hard-working volunteers to help achieve our Planet Whale mission. In particular we welcome applications for the upcoming Whalefest. You don’t need to be a whale expert but a lot of enthusiasm for marine conservation and a fun attitude are essential. We’re based in Brighton and Hove (UK) but our volunteer network stretches across the globe, so feel free to get in touch wherever you are! Contact us at


Return to Toothed Whales or learn more about the Common Dolphin