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Dieren en planten

Cuttlefish   European squid   Herring family   Sprat   Dolphins   Sowerby's beaked whale   

Mens en Milieu

Sowerby's beaked whale


Around 5 meters


Around 3000 kilograms


Dark gray to black


Squid and small school-forming fish

  • Dut: (Gewone) Spitssnuitdolfijn
  • Lat: Mesoplodon bidens
  • Eng: Sowerby's beaked whale
  • Ger: Sowerby-Zweizahnwal (Nördlicher Schnabelwal)
  • Fren: mésoplodon de Sowerby
  • Dan: Langnæbet delfin (almindelig næbhval)
  • Nor: Sowerbyspisshval
Beaked whale, Frits-Jan Maas

Sowerby's beaked whale

Worldwide, there are many species of beaked whales, all looking very much alike. There is hardly anything known about these mysterious whales, except that they are very shy. In the North Sea, Sowerby's beaked whales are seen most often. They are even found regularly in the extreme northern part of the North Sea, but are rarely observed in the south. In general, Sowerby's are found mostly in the northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Stranding of beaked whales along the Dutch coast
    Beached beaked whale, Ameland 12 April 2005, Johan Krol, Natuurcentrum Ameland

    In addition to the Sowerby's beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens), three other species have also washed ashore in the Netherlands: Cuvier's (Ziphius cavirostris), Gray's (Mesoplodon grayi) and De Blainville's  (Mesoplodon densirostris) beaked whales.

    DatePlace and details
    September 1896 Tholen, pregnant female
    22 September 1911 Hoek van Holland
    July 1914 Westerschelde, male, Ziphius cavirostris
    November 1916 Wassenaar, male
    10 December 1927 Kijkduin, young female (Mesoplodon grayi)
    14 September 1932 Hoedekenskerke, female
    1946 Noord Beveland, Veerse Gat
    16 July 1947 Texel, two specimen
    20 September 1949 Zoutelande, male
    23 December 1951 Ouddorp (undetermined species beaked whale)
    10 July 1952 Castricum/Wijk aan zee, female
    11 July 1952 Wijk aan Zee, Castricum
    13 February 1976 Schiermonnikoog
    29 September 1977 Goeree, male
    5 August 1992 Borssele, female
    14 July 1996 Pieterburen
    31 August 2002 Schiermonnikoog, female
    12 May 2005 Ameland, female (Mesoplodon densirostris)
    04-10-2009 Maasvlakte, alive
    18-07-2010 Egmond aan Zee, alive
    10-08-2011 Ameland, back vertebrate
    18-07-2013 Schiermonnikoog, alive
    Source: archive Naturalis and Chris Smeenk
  • Strandings due to underwater noise

    In Greece, thirteen beaked whales stranded in May 1998. From studies at the University of Athens, the animals probably stranded after becoming disoriented from acoustic tests being performed by the NATO in the Mediterranean Sea. The NATO was testing a system to track submarines. This was done by transmitting a very low frequency noise at a very intense level. Dolphins are very sensitive to low frequencies. Studies performed by the St Andrews University showed that beaked whales are even sensitive to middle frequenties. As soon as the animals hear the tones, they keep quiet themselves or get out of the area.

  • Century-old beaked whale

    A skull from a beaked whale was found in 2006 in a recreation area nearby Mill in northeastern Brabant. The skull dated back to the Pliocene or Miocene era and is five to ten million years old. In those days, the Netherlands was three-fourths flooded and the seawater temperature was subtropic. According to the Ancient Times Museum in Boxtel, this was the first time since 1930 that a remnant of a dolphin was found in the Netherlands.