Drawing by Graham Sanders
Southern Bottlenose Whales reach 7.8m in the female and weigh about 4 tons. Like other beaked whales they have a robust body shape, short flippers, a large bulbous shaped forehead, a pair of throat grooves and a short dolphin-like beak. Mature males have a squarer forehead and a single pair of teeth at the jaw tip. They are chocolate brown to yellow in colour with lighter flanks and belly. The dorsal fin is sickle-shaped and set well back. They have been sighted in Antarctic waters and off Southern Africa in small social groups of three to ten individuals but sightings are rare. Their blow is similar to that of a Sperm Whale.
Southern Bottlenose Whales occur throughout the southern hemisphere and are related to the Northern Bottlenose Whale. They are a deep water species living off the continental shelf. They reach maturity at about 11 years of age and 6m in length and may live for 50 years. Calves are usually born in spring or summer every few years but little is known about their biology. They mostly feed on squid and other cephlapods and use their massive melon forehead to produce high energy sounds to stun their prey. They lack functional teeth.
Most of the stranding records of Southern Bottlenose Whales occur in New Zealand but at least 14 have been recorded from Australian states with most from South Australia and three records of single animals from Tasmania, the first being a skull collected from Ocean Beach.