Latin name: Hyperoodon planifrons
Estimated Current Population: Unknown.
The Southern Bottlenose Whale is found mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, but have been known to stray as far north as the waters around Hawaii and Japan. They seem to summer around South Africa.
The specific name, planifrons, means ‘level-browed’ and refers to the fact that the upper jaw is much lower than that of the Northern Bottlenose Whale.
Antarctic Bottlenose Whale; Flathead.
As with the Northern Bottlenose Whale, the head is the predominant feature of this southern species. The melon is bulbous and overhangs the beak. There are a pair of grooves on the throat, beneath the curve of the mouthline, and the prominant dorsal fin is set well back. The body colour varies from dull yellow to deep brown, paling around the head and underneath. Large individuals may be heavily scarred. Two teeth are found at the tip of the lower jaw. The male Southern Bottlenose Whale measures around 6.94m, while the female measures approximately 7.45m in length.
Recognition at sea
Southern Bottlenose Whales cannot be easily idenitifed at sea, except if they are approached closely. At a distance, they can be mistaken for other Beaked Whales, in particular Arnoux’s Beaked Whale and Baird’s Beaked Whale. However, the large melon and varying body colour of this species should be enough to identify the correct species. The difference in body colour can mean confusion with Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, but the latter has a shorter beak.
In the summer, Southern Bottlenose Whales are regularly found within 110km of the Antarctic ice-edge. They rarely inhabit waters with a depth of less than 200m.
Food & Feeding
From the stomach analysis of a stranded individual, it seems that squid is the primary prey.
Southern Bottlenose Whales have been found in groups of as many as twenty-five, but mainly appear to travel in units of less than ten. When chased, they sometimes raise the head clear of the water to breathe.
The Influence of Man
The Southern Bottlenose Whale, unlike its northern cousin, has not been exploited.