Northern Bottlenose Whale

Hyperoodon ampullatus

I travelled today (17 September 2009) to Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, to see a Northern Bottlenose Whale that has become quite a celebrity; it has been relatively close inshore for 5 days now. (Though the distance still makes it difficult to get accurate size, possible sex and age).

The animal may be ill, of course, as to find any beaked whale in shallow water is most odd. It is active though - swimming fast, tail-lobbing and even occasionally breaching. It has been patrolling the same stretch of water, seeming to turn always at about the same spots. Let’s hope it travels back out, to deep water, soon!

Note; there were three sightings, amounting to five whales, around the Isle of Mull, Scotland in 2008, and two of these were in shallow water and they did move on, but the infamous Northern Bottlenose Whale that came up the River Thames in London (January 2006) unfortunately didn’t....and died after a few days.

Many thanks to Nigel Jones/Ornitholidays for the above shots

POSTSCRIPT – unfortunately this whale died, probably on the 19th September, and washed up onto the beach 21 September.  Initial investigations show it to be a female, the stomach empty and the blubber layer thin (from burning fat instead of food). Cuts and abrasions, now on the body, were probably caused by the dragging of the body from the surf by a tractor.

A full autopsy is to be performed by the Zoological Society of London (UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme).