THE LANDLORDS OF THE OCEAN
Have you ever thought about the landlords of the oceans? There is a saying: “Big fish eats the smaller ones.” The most powerful and deadly animals who taste the freedom of the sea world are whales. So many kinds of whales exist. One of the most interesting kinds is the bottle-nosed whale. It is no wonder why they are given this name. Their bulbous forehead and elongated snout give them a unique character. Besides these unique physical characteristics, they have other special qualities as well including their rarity and their enormous size. Northern species and southern species are the two types of bottle-nosed whales that are categorized by the difference in their size, living habitats and mating seasons.
Starting from the physical appearance, the first distinction is the difference in size between northern bottle-nosed whale and southern bottle-nosed whale. The northern bottle-nosed whales have a longer body compared to the southern ones. Their bodies reach to a maximum length of 32ft and average 7.5 metric tons of weight. On the other hand, the southern species grow to a maximum of 25ft in length and average of 7 metric tons. The second obvious distinction is the difference in their color. Northern species are gray with a lighter underside and a pale band around the neck. The color of southern species varies more; they have blue-black, gray, brown or yellow bodies and light-colored snouts and undersides. However, they share a common treat, males have two conical teeth in the lower jaw and females have no teeth. In short, the size, color and the shape of bottle-nosed whales vary according to where they are found.
The second quality is their living habitats. Both of the species usually inhabit cold waters deeper than 3000ft. They are most often observed in deep trenches or canyons in the sea floor. Northern bottle-nosed whales live in the North Atlantic. Significant populations are found in a vast undersea canyon near Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and north and west of Scotland near the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, and the Outer Hebrides Islands. Southern bottle-nosed whales range throughout the Southern Hemisphere from Antarcticanorth to the equator. In winter, they are sighted occasionally off the coasts of the Hawaiian Islands and Japan, as well as in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
The third quality is their mating. Both southern and northern species’ mating takes place during the spring. After a gestational period of about 11 months, female bottle-nosed whales deliver a single baby and then nurse it for nearly a year. They give birth every two or three years.
The final quality is their rarity. Some people, such as the natives of Denmark’s Faroe Islands, have traditionally hunted the northern bottle-nosed whale for its meat and the medicinal properties of its blubber. Unfortunately, these whales were extensively hunted by commercial whalers through the early 1900’s, with commercial hunting continuing until the species was granted protected status in 1977. Southern bottle-nosed whales, in contrast, have never been hunted on a major scale.
Consequently, all the scientific classifications that are stated above about the bottle-nosed whales are for the human beings to know them better. We, human beings, are so overwhelmed by their beauty that we need to explore and explain their environment and put them under titles like Hyperoodon ampullatus (northern bottle-nosed whale) and Hyperoodon planifrons (southern bottle-nosed whales). Science can name them, but the goal of discovering the mystery behind the landlords of the ocean is unreachable.