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Sowerby's Beaked Whale


Scientific name: Mesoplodon bidens. 
Order: Artiodactyla.
Family: Ziphiidae.
Genus: Mesoplodon.

IUCN Status

Least concerned.

Other names

North Sea beaked whale.
North Atlantic beaked whale.


Small to medium sized whales, the males can grow to 5.5 meters and females can grow 5.1 meters. They are dark bluish grey in colour, with a sandy colour to the head and the back, and a grey underbelly with white spots. Males have been observed with scarring on them. The dorsal fin is small, curved and have a rounded tip, and is set 2/3 back to the tail. Other distinguishing features are long, thin flippers, a slender beak, and a bulging melon (forehead).

Habitat and distribution

There is no estimated population number for them. They are mostly seen over deep waters, and have been sighted around Norway, UK, and in the Bay of Biscay.


Sowerby’s beaked whales are often seen in small groups of 2 to 5 individuals. They only spend a short time at the surface, taking 4 to 5 breaths in 1 to 2 minutes before deep diving. Their heads often break the surface when surfacing, and they have a small, bushy blow which is sometimes visible.

Confusion with other species

They are not often confused with other species due to their size and features.


Threats to Sowerby’s beaked whales include entanglement in fishing gear, overfishing of prey species and noise pollution.

Interesting facts

They dive to depths of 200 meters to 1,500 meters under the surface.

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