Species Profile

Northern Bottlenose Whale Scotian Shelf population

Scientific Name: Hyperoodon ampullatus
Other/Previous Names: Northern Bottlenose Whale (Gully population)
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
COSEWIC Range: Atlantic Ocean
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2011
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This well-studied population contains an estimated 164 individuals, of which approximately 93 are mature. The population appears to be stable but it is very small and at risk from entanglement in fishing gear and possibly also from anthropogenic noise produced by seismic surveys for oil and gas and from exposure to contaminants.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The Northern Bottlenose Whale was given a single designation of Not at Risk in April 1993. Split into two populations in April 1996 to allow a separate designation of the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population). Scotian Shelf population designated Special Concern in April 1996. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2002 and in May 2011.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-04-06

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Northern Bottlenose Whale

Northern Bottlenose Whale Photo 1

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Description

The Northern Bottlenose Whale is a medium-sized whale. Adults typically measure seven to nine metres in length. Distinctive characteristics of the species include: a large bulbous forehead and prominent beak, a grey or brown colouring and a small dorsal fin approximately two-thirds of the way down the back. Adult males can be distinguished from females or juvenile males by the following characteristics: adult males have larger, flatter foreheads that tend to get whiter with age and adult males may have a single pair of erupted teeth in the lower jaw.

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Distribution and Population

The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales inhabits deep waters (>500 metres) along the continental slope off of Nova Scotia and southeastern Newfoundland. The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales is small, with an estimated 143 animals.

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Habitat

The majority of sightings to date for this population of Northern Bottlenose Whales have been in three adjacent submarine canyons on the Eastern Scotian Shelf: the Gully, Shortland Canyon, and Haldimand Canyon. In 2010, these canyons were identified as critical habitat for the population under the Species at Risk Act.

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Biology

The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales resides in Canadian waters year-round. Mating and calving is thought to peak in July and August. The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales is genetically distinct from the other known population of this species in Canadian waters: the more northerly Baffin Bay-Davis Strait-Labrador Sea population. Northern Bottlenose Whales are among the deepest-diving mammal species in the world, with dive depths often exceeding 1000 metres. The deepest dive recorded for the species was over 2300 metres. Northern Bottlenose Whales can remain submerged for over an hour while foraging for deep-water prey. Their diet is thought to be primarily composed of Armhook (Gonatus) squid.

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Threats

Current threats to the population include (in no particular order) entanglement, oil and gas activities, acoustic disturbance, contaminants, changes in food supply, and vessel strikes. Anthropogenic (human-caused) noise is of particular concern since Northern Bottlenose Whales rely on sound to carry out their life functions, including foraging, socializing, and navigation. The deep-diving behaviour of these whales may make them especially vulnerable to physiological impacts from acoustic disturbance.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf population, is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

In May 2004, regulations were enacted to formally designate the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act. The purpose of the MPA designation is to conserve and protect the natural biological diversity of the Gully and to ensure its long-term health. The MPA contains three management zones. Zone 1 comprising the deepest parts of the canyon is preserved in a near-natural state with full ecosystem protection. Zone 2 imposes strict protection for the canyon head and sides, feeder canyons and the continental slope. The adjacent sand banks, which are prone to regular natural disturbance, comprise Zone 3. General prohibitions against disturbance, damage, destruction or removal of any living marine organism or any part of its habitat within the MPA apply to the entire water column and include the seabed to a depth of 15 metres. The regulations also prohibit any activities in the vicinity of the MPA that contravene these general prohibitions.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), Scotian Shelf population, in Atlantic Canadian Waters
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and its partners, including academic scientists, the private sector, and other government departments, have been researching and monitoring this population for many years. This work has led to a better understanding of Northern Bottlenose Whale vocalizations, behaviour, habitat use, and population dynamics. For example, acoustic data was collected from 2012 to 2014 at three sites located within and between the three canyons. These data will help establish baseline information about Northern Bottlenose Whale presence and vocalizations. These data will also help determine ambient noise levels in their critical habitat areas. In addition, photo-identification has allowed scientists to track individuals and accurately determine the population size and trend.

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

41 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Northern Bottlenose Whale in Canada (2011-09-09)

    The status of the northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), a beaked whale (family Ziphiidae) of the North Atlantic, was assessed for COSEWIC by Reeves et al. (1993), and no listing was given. A subsequent report on the population that uses the waters of the Gully, a submarine canyon off the Scotian Shelf, led to this population being placed in the Special Concern category in 1996 (Whitehead et al. 1997a). Since these reports, substantial new information has been published on the Gully population, and industrial development in the area has accelerated rapidly, potentially threatening the population. Consequently, the listing of this population needs reassessment.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf population (2011-12-08)

    This well-studied population contains an estimated 164 individuals, of which approximately 93 are mature. The population appears to be stable but it is very small and at risk from entanglement in fishing gear and possibly also from anthropogenic noise produced by seismic surveys for oil and gas and from exposure to contaminants.
  • Response Statements - Northern Bottlenose Whale (2004-04-21)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), Scotian Shelf population, in Atlantic Canadian Waters (2016-06-09)

    The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is found only in the North Atlantic, primarily in offshore waters deeper than 500 metres. There are several historic centres of abundance based on whaling information: west of Spitsbergen, around Iceland, off northern and western Norway, in Canadian waters of the Davis Strait, and along the edge of the eastern Scotian Shelf, the southern-most centre of abundance. The whales occupying the eastern Scotian Shelf and the Davis Strait are considered to constitute distinct populations and have been assessed separately by COSEWIC since 1996. Only the Scotian Shelf population, with less than 200 individuals, is currently considered at-risk by COSEWIC. In November 2002, COSEWIC designated the Scotian Shelf population as Endangered. The amended Recovery Strategy improves the presentation of the critical habitat information, and includes a clearer map and details on the functions, features, and attributes of the identified critical habitat. The critical habitat identified remains unchanged from the original recovery strategy.

Action Plans

  • Action Plan for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), Scotian Shelf population, in Atlantic Canadian waters (2017-04-26)

    The Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales was listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c. 29) in 2006. A “Recovery Strategy for the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus), Scotian Shelf population, in Atlantic Canadian waters” was published in 2010, and was amended in 2016 (DFO 2010a; 2016). This Action Plan identifies activities (“recovery measures”) that will help achieve the recovery goals and strategies outlined in the Recovery Strategy.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2005) (2005-07-27)

    The Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of 12 aquatic species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 140, number 8, 2006) (2006-04-19)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2003 (2003-10-01)

    May 2003 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011-09-09)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing licence(#DFO-NL-3144-15), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2015-06-11)

    Building on previous field research and analyses, during 2015 and 2016, research will be conducted using several linked research studies on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales (NBW) in the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. During the summers of 2015 and 2016 surveys will be conducted in the slope waters off the Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland from a 12 m auxiliary research vessel. The research team will travel the 1000 m depth contour searching visually during daylight and acoustically using hydrophones. If NBWs are located visually, they will be approached cautiously from the side or from behind at a speed of less than 5 knots to a distance of about 40 m. Several types of data will be collected: 1.) the dorsal fins and melons will be photographed for ongoing photographic identification studies of the whales. 2.) The sounds of the whales will be recorded with a towed hydrophone array. 3.) Biopsys will be taken and it would involve extracting skin and blubber using a crossbow or air-gun and biopsy dart. Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed to gather information on the genetics, diet and contaminant levels of NBW 4.) On the third Gully trip the NBW will be tagged with suction-cup data recording tags deployed from a boat by team members, using a pole or a launching unit (Aerial Tag Attachment System). The purpose of the suction cup tagging is to monitor the diving and foraging behaviour of NBW.
  • Explanation for issuing licence(#DFO-NL-3212-16), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-06-10)

    Building on previous field research and analyses, during 2015 and 2016, research will be conducted using several linked research studies on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales (NBW) in the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. During the summers of 2015 and 2016 surveys will be conducted in the slope waters off the Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland from a 12 m auxiliary research vessel. The research team will travel the 1000 m depth contour searching visually during daylight and acoustically using hydrophones. If NBWs are located visually, they will be approached cautiously from the side or from behind at a speed of less than 5 knots to a distance of about 40 m. Several types of data will be collected: 1) the dorsal fins and melons will be photographed for ongoing photographic identification studies of the whales. 2) The sounds of the whales will be recorded with a towed hydrophone array. 3) Biopsies will be taken and it would involve extracting skin and blubber using a crossbow or air-gun and biopsy dart. Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed to gather information on the genetics, diet and contaminant levels of NBWs 4) On the third Gully trip NBWs will be tagged with suction-cup data recording tags deployed from a boat by team members, using a pole or a launching unit (Aerial Tag Attachment System). The purpose of the suction cup tagging is to monitor the diving and foraging behaviour of NBWs.
  • Explanation for issuing licence(#DFO-NL-4096-17 ), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2017-06-10)

    Building on previous field research and analyses research will be conducted in 2017 to continue research studies on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales (NBW) and population connectivity between the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The research will support actions outlined in the Gully MPA Management Plan, the MPA Ecosystem Monitoring Framework and other DFO research priorities and initiatives. During the summer of 2017 surveys will be conducted in the slope waters off the Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland from a 12 m auxiliary research vessel. The research team will travel the 1000 m depth contour searching visually during daylight hours and acoustically using hydrophones for beaked whales between the Gully Canyon off eastern Nova Scotia and the Sackville Spur and Flemish Cap areas of the Grand Banks. If NBWs are located visually, they will be approached cautiously from the side or from behind at a speed of less than 5 knots to a distance of about 40 m. Several types of data will be collected: 1) the dorsal fins and melons will be photographed for ongoing photographic identification studies of the whales; 2) the sounds of the whales will be recorded with a towed hydrophone array; and 3) biopsies will be taken by extracting skin and blubber using a crossbow or air-gun and biopsy dart in accordance with methods used in previous studies of bottlenose whales. Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed to gather information on the genetics, diet and contaminant levels of NBWs. In addition researchers will collect opportunistic data supporting the work of the Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) curating the North Atlantic Blue whale catalogue. Opportunistic photo-identification and biopsies will be performed on Blue whales that may be encountered using the same methods and system described above for beaked whales.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PMAR-00007), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-06-06)

    The purpose of this research is to collect information on reproductive and health status, stress responses, contaminant loads for whales and to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping noise on whales. The research targets North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW), Blue Whale (BW) and the Northern Bottlenose Whale (NBW). The project will gather information about the health and well-being of the animals before and after exposure to ship noise. Drone overflights will be used to collect aerial photographs to visually assess body condition (30-40 meters (m) above the animal). In addition, hormonal data will be collected to assess reproductive status and the activity of the stress response. This data will come from skin and blubber samples (collected using crossbow-launched biopsy darts), blow samples (collected using drones at 2.5 meters above the animals), and fecal matter (collected from the water). Additionally, blubber and potentially skin samples may be used to assess contaminant loads (concentration of contaminates). Deployment of acoustic tags using suction cups will reveal information about the behaviour of the whales while submerged, including the sounds they produce and how they respond to ships. To collect the biopsies, a crossbow with an arrow fitted with a stainless steel tip (barbed on the inside to hold the sample) will be used to extract a sample of skin and blubber when possible. The darts are 7 millimeters (mm) x 40 mm in size. The tags used are noninvasive suction-cup-attached digital archival acoustic recording tags. The whale is then followed at a distance of 3-5 nautical miles (nm) and the tag is retrieved once it falls off (2-6 hours). Researchers will also opportunistically collect photos of Leatherback Sea Turtles (LBT) and Loggerhead Sea Turtles (LHT) from drone overflights to supplement existing information on the health (including entanglement rates) and size of these species, and thus also population structure, in Canadian waters. This work will take place in Canadian waters, off the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Activities will take place in the designated critical habitat for NARW near Grand Manan Basin and Roseway Basin, and in NBW critical habitat near the Gully Marine Protected Area, Shortland Canyon, and Haldimand Canyon located off the coast of Nova Scotia. This work will be undertaken primarily during the summer months, although work may occur at any time from April to November each year, from 2019 to 2022. The activities authorized by this permit consist of: Close approaches in a vessel (whales and turtles); Drone overflights (whales and turtles); Biopsy sampling (whales only); and Suction-cup acoustic tag deployment (whales only).
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#19-PMAR-00016), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2019-05-22)

    Scientific research (photography, sound recordings, and biopsy sample collection) will be conducted on Blue Whales and Northern Bottlenose Whales. Blue Whale photo-identification and biopsy data will be collected opportunistically to support the Mingan Island Cetacean Study work curating the North Atlantic Blue Whale catalogue. This population monitoring program is a requirement in the Blue Whale recovery strategy. Mingan Island Cetacean Study plans to enlarge its study area and increase the sample size of photo-identification and biopsy data. This information will be used to determine the Blue Whale population and stock structure in eastern Canadian waters. Northern Bottlenose Whale research activities build upon previous research on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales and population connectivity between the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA), which is identified Critical Habitat for this species, and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. This research will address objectives and knowledge gaps identified in the Recovery Strategy for the Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf population, in Atlantic Canadian Waters and certain high priority actions identified in the Action Plan for the Northern Bottlenose Whale. This research also supports actions outlined in the Gully MPA management plan, indicators identified in the Gully MPA's Ecosystem Monitoring Framework, and actions identified in DFO's Research Priority Areas of the 2007-2012 Research Agenda. Specifically, the research includes: 1. Photography - The dorsal fins, tail and/or melons, will be photographed. Photographs will be used for ongoing photographic identification studies of the whales. 2. Sound Recording - The sounds of the whales will be recorded with a towed MEER hydrophone array. 3. Biopsy Collection - A maximum of 30 Northern Bottlenose Whales and 10 Blue Whales that approach close enough to the vessel will be biopsied using standard biopsy equipment. The activities authorized by this permit consist of: operating a vessel in close proximity to Northern Bottlenose Whales and Blue Whales, and making multiple close vessel approaches; biopsy sampling up to 30 Northern Bottlenose Whales, and up to 10 Blue Whales. This involves puncturing the skin and extracting a skin/blubber sample.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-GLF-00001), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-03-16)

    The main activity involves the rescue of marine mammals and turtles, which may include physically interacting with an individual for the purpose of securing, re-floating, 'herding', or transporting for either rehabilitation or relocation. Another activity is to provide phone support for all incidents types and work with animals that are beach stranded or trapped near shore. Activities involving dead animals include collection of biological samples and securing, moving, or transporting all or parts of individuals, as well as burier processes on site or disposed of through local institutions. No biological samples will be collected from live animals. No animals will be kept in captivity.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PMAR-00032 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-07-08)

    A volunteer organization with the primary goal of rescuing whales that are entangled in fishing gear has carried out successful large whale disentanglement operations since 2002. Disentanglement activities are usually carried out using small motorized boats that allow the rescuers to easily reach the whales. To disentangle whales, specialized cutting tools are used to remove the fishing gear. When whales are trapped in fishing weirs, an opening is made to allow the whales to swim out. Volunteers may also respond to entangled or hooked sea turtles.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#20-PNFL-00015 ), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2020-04-02)

    The proposed activity is to rescue entrapped/stranded marine animals in distress in the Newfoundland and Labrador region and maintain a ready team to respond to and assist or release entrapped and stranded marine animals. When the opportunity arises, morphometric data and samples of dead stranded marine animals will be collected when directed by DFO Science.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2009-005), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-04-22)

    During annual research voyages of the CCGS Hudson, proponents of this project will measure multifrequency acoustic backscatter within the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA). This will contribute to a set of continuous (since 2006) distribution data for macrozooplankton species that are not sampled efficiently by net or optical techniques. This work will be conducted during two Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP) cruises to be conducted in the approximate time periods 09 April - 27 April 2009 and 26 Sept. - 19 Oct. 2009 (subject to minor revision). The AZMP regularly conducts zooplankton net and optical sampling in the Gully MPA. Describe the actual work of taking measurements The proposed activity constitutes routine acoustic monitoring and water column sampling. Potential risk of harm to SARA species is minimal. The work may benefit SARA species through improved characterization of forage (prey) species.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2010-015), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-05-20)

    Observational field studies within the Gully MPA and nearby waters (including Haldimand and Shortland canyons) of the Scotian Shelf. The principal activity is the photographic identification of individual bottlenose whales, and passive acoustic recording of bottlenose whale vocalizations is a secondary activity. This work will be conducted during two three-week cruises on a 12.5-m ocean-going auxiliary cutter as the research platform.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2013-01), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2013-08-01)

    The main purpose of this research is to develop and ground-truth non-invasive methods to track the body condition of free-ranging animals, to understand their capacity to adjust foraging and anti-predator behaviors in response to their condition, and to understand the consequences of fluctuations in body condition in terms of the reproductive status and success of individual animals. Though some of the work in the early stages would benefit from invasive biopsy sampling, the goal is to validate the method to track body density using high-resolution suction-cup-attached data loggers and/or photogrammetry. This research will fill in knowledge gaps pertinent to the protection of Scotian Shelf Northern Bottlenose Whales such as vocal and diving behavior, foraging ecology, habitat use, vital rates of calving and calf survival, and represents a collection of baseline data on the potential impact of different anthropogenic noise sources on the whales. Ultimately, tracking body condition may become a viable method of monitoring the health of the population before changes in population numbers occur. The research planned for 2013 - 2017 may include the following activities: approaching, photographing, tagging each subject individual of Northern Bottlenose Whale and taking biopsy and blow expirate samples. Biological samples will be taken and retained for analysis. The year's work will take place in the waters of the Scotian Shelf, primarily in the Gully MPA from August 21-September 9, 2013.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2015-01), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-03-24)

    North Atlantic Right Whales (target species), Northern Bottlenose and Blue Whales (opportunistically) will be biopsy sampled and photographed for individual identification and for ongoing genetic research. Biopsy samples will only be taken from individuals not previously sampled. Sampling will involve closely approaching individual whales in a small support boat and shooting an arrow with a modified tip from a crossbow. The tissue samples will be retained, stored, transferred, and processed. North Atlantic Right Whales will receive dermal tags, and will be tracked to better understand nocturnal and diurnal dive patterns and feeding behaviours. This activity involves closely approaching individual whales from a small support boat and applying dermal tags to the backs of individual whales. The dermal tags remain attached for 24-72 hours.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2015-08), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-06-10)

    Several linked, vessel-based research studies will be undertaken during summer 2015 and 2016 on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales (NBW) in the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia. The vessel will travel the 1000 meter depth contour searching for beaked whales visually during daylight hours and acoustically using hydrophones. If the whales are located visually, they will be approached cautiously and closely to be photographed, for the collection data and biological samples, and for the deployment of tags. Biopsy sampling will involve extracting skin and blubber using a crossbow or air-gun and biopsy dart. Suction cup tagging will involve attaching tags using a pole or a launching unit (Aerial Tag Attachment System). Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed. The purpose of the biopsy sample collection and analysis is to gather information on the genetics, diet and contaminant levels of NBW. The purpose of the suction cup tagging is to monitor the diving and foraging behaviour of NBW.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2015-17), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2015-06-15)

    The activities involve disentangling whales (including North Atlantic Right Whales, Blue Whale and Northern Bottlenose Whale) and Leatherback Sea Turtles from fishing gear and lines. Disentanglement operations can take place year round, and their frequency is variable and unpredictable. In the past, most disentanglement operations have been conducted in the spring, summer and fall when the species are present. Disentanglement activities on the water are typically undertaken from small vessels that may need to repeatedly approach the entangled animal at close range. Entangled animals may be physically restrained to facilitate gear removal. Gaffers and sharp cutting tools may be used to free whales and turtles from gear. Dead animals floating at sea may be retrieved or towed to a shore location where another individual or organization can perform a necropsy.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2016-02), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-04-14)

    North Atlantic Right Whales (target species), Northern Bottlenose and Blue Whales (opportunistically) will be biopsy sampled and photographed for individual identification and ongoing genetic research. Sampling will involve closely approaching individual whales in a small boat. Biopsy samples will be taken using a crossbow and an arrow with a modified tip. The tissue samples will be retained, stored, transferred, and processed. North Atlantic Right Whales will receive dermal tags, and will be tracked to better understand nocturnal and diurnal dive patterns and feeding behaviours. This activity involves approaching individual whales from a small boat and applying dermal tags to the backs of individual whales using a compressed air launcher. The dermal tags remain attached for 24-72 hours. Researchers will also collect respiratory vapour from North Atlantic Right Whales for hormone analysis. This collection will be done using a long pole with a collector on the end to capture the vapour as the whale exhales.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2016-06), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2016-06-13)

    Several linked, vessel-based research studies will be undertaken during the summer of 2016 on the distribution, ecology, and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales (NBW) in the Gully Marine Protected Area and the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia. A vessel will travel the 1000 meter depth contour searching for NBW visually during daylight hours and acoustically using hydrophones. The studies will also involve collection of information on Blue Whales, if any are encountered. Information gathered on Blue Whales will improve the knowledge of the population and stock structure. If the whales are located visually, they will be approached cautiously and closely. Photographs will be taken and biopsy samples will be collected using a crossbow or air-gun and a biopsy dart. Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed. Biopsy samples will be analysed to learn more about genetics, diet and contaminant levels. NBW may also be tagged with a suction cup tag. The tags are attached using either a pole or a launching unit (i.e., Aerial Tag Attachment System). The purpose of the suction cup tagging is to monitor the diving and foraging behaviour of NBW.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#DFO-MAR-2017-05), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2017-06-16)

    Research studies on the distribution, ecology and status of Northern Bottlenose Whales and Blue Whales will be conducted from a 12.5 metre research vessel in the Gully Marine Protected Area (MPA), Zone 1 of which is identified Critical Habitat for the Northern Bottlenose Whale, and along the continental slope waters off Nova Scotia. This research supports priorities identified by DFO's Species at Risk and Oceans Programs. The research activities will target Northern Bottlenose Whale; Blue Whales will be sampled opportunistically. The vessel will approach whales cautiously and closely to obtain photographs, and to obtain biopsy samples. Up to 20 Northern Bottlenose Whales, and up to 5 Blue Whales will be biopsy sampled using a crossbow or air-gun. Skin and blubber samples will be retained, stored, transferred and processed. Biopsy samples will be analysed to learn more about genetics, diet and contaminant levels.
  • >> See more Permits and Related Agreements documents

Consultation Documents

  • Species at Risk Act- Legal Listing Consultation Workbook, Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf Population (Hyperoodon ampullatus) (2004-09-10)

    Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Scotian Shelf population) to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding this species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding this species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).

Critical Habitat Descriptions in the Canada Gazette

Critical Habitat Orders

  • Critical Habitat of the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) Scotian Shelf Population Order (2018-07-25)

    The recovery goal, set out in the Recovery Strategy, is to achieve a stable or increasing population of the Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf population and to maintain, at a minimum, its current distribution. Efforts to achieve this recovery goal are ongoing and involve a number of recovery objectives outlined in the Recovery Strategy. Current threats to the Northern Bottlenose Whale, Scotian Shelf population, as identified in the Recovery Strategy, include acoustic disturbance, entanglement in fishing gear, oil and gas activities, vessel strikes, changes to food supply, and contaminants. While there has been measurable progress towards meeting the recovery goal, objectives and performance indicators presented in the Recovery Strategy, additional information on ecology, population dynamics, distribution, and anthropogenic threats is required. Protection of critical habitat is an important component of ensuring the recovery of the Scotian Shelf population of Northern Bottlenose Whales, particularly given the small size of the population and the high proportion of individuals that concentrate year-round in the same three submarine canyons.

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Recovery Document Posting Plan - Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (2018-09-28)

    Under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the competent Minister(s) must prepare a recovery strategy within one year of listing a species on Schedule 1 of SARA as endangered and within two years of listing a species as extirpated or threatened. A management plan must be prepared within three years for a species listed as special concern. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is accountable for 111 of the 518 species listed under SARA. As of February 2016, proposed recovery strategies, management plans and action plans for 57 of those species have not yet been posted to the Species at Risk Public Registry. An additional 23 aquatic species have proposed management or action plans coming due in the future. The following outlines the Department’s plan for posting proposed documents for 64 species on the Species at Risk Public Registry. The Department has a plan to post recovery strategies for 9 species, management plans for 13 species, and action plans for 42 species over the next year. Original publication of the Recovery Document Posting Plan: 2016-05-02
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