Sowerby’s Beaked Whale

Sowerby’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon bidens), also known as the North Atlantic/North Sea Beaked Whale, was the first beaked whale to be described. Its name, bidens, derives from the two teeth present in the jaw, now known to be a very common feature among the family. It is altogether a rather typical representative of the genus.

Physical description

Sowerby’s Beaked Whale has a typical body shape for the genus, and is mainly distinguished by the male’s dual teeth that are found very far back in the mouth. The whale’s beak is moderately long, and the melon is slightly convex. The coloration pattern is a fairly drab grey with light counter shading on the bottom, and frequently has cookie cutter shark bites and scars from teeth (in males). The whale reaches 16 ft (5 meters) in females and 18 ft (5.5 meters) in males, with a weight of 1000 to 1300 kilograms (2200 to 2900 pounds). The gestation period is a full year and the young are born at a length of 2.4 to 2.7 meters (8 to 9 feet) with a weight of around 400 pounds (185 kilograms).

Population and distribution

Sowerby’s Beaked Whale ranges from Nantucket to Labrador in the Western Atlantic and from Madeira to the Norwegian Sea in the Eastern Atlantic. They typically range in waters 650 to 5000 feet deep. No population estimates have been made.


The whales are occasionally in groups of 8 to 10 individuals, males, females, and calves. They have been known to strand in groups as well. They are believed to primarily feed on squid, but cod has been found in their stomachs. They have been known to dive down at times approaching half an hour.