Southern Bottlenose Whales, Hyperoodon planifrons
Taxonomy Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetacea Hyperoodontidae Hyperoodon planifrons
Description & Behavior
Southern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon planifrons (Flower, 1882), aka southern bottle-nosed whales, Antarctic bottlenose whales and the flathead, are large beaked whales that reach 6-9 m in length. They have a stocky body shape and large, bulbous forehead that overhangs a short, dolphin-like beak. They are dark brown to yellow in color with lighter coloration on the lower flanks and ventral side. It is thought that their coloring is caused by a thin layer of phytoplankton called diatoms. Mature males have a more square-shaped forehead than females and juveniles. Adult males also have a pair of conical teeth at the tip of the lower jaw. They have a prominent dorsal fin located toward the anterior end of the body.
Southern bottlenose whales are an uncommon species rarely observed at sea because of their remote habitat. They are known to remain at the surface to breathe after long dives for at least 10 minutes, blowing every 30-40 seconds. They can dive up to 60 minutes, however typical dives do not last that long. The southern bottlenose whale is found in groups of <10-25, small groups are most common.
World Range & Habitat
Southern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon planifrons, are likely found throughout the Southern Hemisphere. They have been sighted near the Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, Cape Province in South Africa, 31°S in the western Indian Ocean, the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia, Ulladulla in New South Wales, North Island in New Zealand, and Valparaiso in Chile, south to the Antarctic continent. Possible sightings have been reported south of Japan, around Hawaii, and along the equator in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is thought that the southern bottlenose whale can also be found in warm temperate waters, and there have been possible sightings in the eastern equatorial Pacific. It is also thought that there may be unidentified species similar to Hyperoodon planifrons.
The southern bottlenose whale is found in open water beyond the continental shelf in water deeper than 1,000 m. This species is rarely found in water less than 200 m deep. During summer months they are seen within about 100 km of the Antarctic ice edge. Sightings have also been reported in the steep thermocline between the Agulhas current and cold Antarctic water masses.
Data on migratory patterns have been analyzed by examination of stomach contents from two southern bottlenose whales: one male caught off the east coast of South Africa and one female stranded on the west coast of South Africa, where they are most often seen seasonally in February and October. Both had consumed oceanic squid species, with both Antarctic and subantarctic species present, which, combined with the presence of cold water skin diatoms, indicated that both animals had recently migrated to South Africa from the north.
Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Southern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon planifrons, feed primarily on squid, but are also known to eat fish.
No data currently available.
Conservation Status & Comments
Southern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon planifrons, have not been hunted commercially, although some southern bottlenose whales have been taken for research purposes. Several have been reported caught in driftnets in the Tasman Sea. Data on population size of this species are limited, however a 1995 study estimated about 599,300 beaked whales south of the the Antarctic Convergence most of which were southern bottlenose whales.
References & Further Research
CMS: Hyperoodon planifrons, Southern bottlenose whale
OBIS-SEAMAP - Species Profiles
FAO Species Identification Guide - Marine Mammals of the World (PDF)
Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation (CCRC) - Beaked whales (+ videos)
Research Hyperoodon planifrons » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS
Feedback & Citation
Start or join a discussion about this species below or send us an email to report any errors or submit suggestions for this page. We greatly appreciate all feedback!
Help Protect and Restore Ocean Life
Help us protect and restore marine life by supporting our various online community-centered marine conservation projects that are effectively sharing the wonders of the ocean with millions each year around the world, raising a balanced awareness of the increasingly troubling and often very complex marine conservation issues that affect marine life and ourselves directly, providing support to marine conservation groups on the frontlines that are making real differences today, and the scientists, teachers and students involved in the marine life sciences.
With your support, most marine life and their ocean habitats can be protected, if not restored to their former natural levels of biodiversity. We sincerely thank our thousands of members, donors and sponsors, who have decided to get involved and support the MarineBio Conservation Society.