Even if squid are its favourite prey, the northern bottlenose whale has a varied diet that it pursues in deep waters and on the seabed: herring and other groundfish, shrimp as well as sea cucumbers and starfish.
On the surface
This species can stay at the surface for about 10 minutes, with breathing sequences of 30 to 40 seconds. It alternates rest periods and rapid swimming sequences, changing direction frequently. Occasionally curious with boats, it may approach or even circle them if they are stationary. It rarely lifts its tail when diving.
The northern bottlenose whale dives to extreme depths: recordings made in the Sable Gully reveal that it regularly dives to the bottom of the canyon, i.e. 1400 to 1500 m. These dives generally last between 3 and 70 minutes, with a known record of 2 hours.
This is a gregarious species, forming pairs and pods of 3 to a dozen or so individuals. Individuals of the same sex seem to form long relationships. Pod members don’t abandon one of their own kind when an individual is injured.
The northern bottlenose whale emits whistles, chirps, modulated sounds and clicks. Ultrasound is used for echolocation to navigate and to find prey, while other vocalizations are used for communication.