This whale makes up one of over 15 known species of beaked whale and is one of 80 + marine mammals within the cetacean family.
Although rarely observed, when compared to other beaked whale species these whales appear be more well-known and researched.
Sowerby’s beaked whale is part of the toothed whale suborder which is composed of numerous whale species as well as all species of dolphin and porpoise.
When fully grown these whales can reach lengths of 15 – 19 ft. long and weigh as much as 3,000 lbs.
They have a long slim beak and male whales have two visible teeth that erupt from the lower beak; these two teeth are hidden on female whales.
The dorsal fin and flippers are small and streamlined for easy swimming.
In terms of color adult whales are a gray/bluish coloring with a light-colored under-body.
Both males and females may show scaring from predator attacks.
When diving for food they have been observed holding their breath for up to half an hour before resurfacing.
Given the fact that these marine mammals are toothed whales they likely use echolocation to navigate the ocean and search for food at night.
These whales can be found living in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Limited sightings suggests they prefer living in deep offshore waters and are usually shy and distant when they notice approaching boats or ships.
Both sightings of these whales and observations of stranded whales suggest Sowerby’s beaked whale tends to travel in groups.
They have been spotted traveling in groups of 8 – 10 whales, and in some situations they have been found stranded in groups, which can include males, females and children.
In terms of behavior they appear to exhibit a shy and/or cautious personality as they are more likely to observe ships/boats from a distance rather than approach unknown objects.
This shy and inactive nature makes these whales particularly hard to locate, identify and study, which is part of the reason limited data exist on Sowerby’s beaked whale, which was first described in the early 1800’s by James Sowerby, hence the whales name.
The average gestation period for these whales is 12 months.
As with other species these whales give birth to a single offspring once every several years.
It is assumed that sexual maturity occurs around 7 – 9 years.
After reaching sexual maturity these whales may begin mating and reproducing their own offspring.
Nothing is known regarding the lifespan of these whales.
Sowerby’s beaked whale has been known to face threats from being accidentally caught in fishing nets, which causes these marine mammals to drown due to not being able to surface and obtain oxygen.
Rare accounts of whalers capturing these whales has also been observed.