Right Whales

Right whales are some of the most amazing whales.


  • The name "Right" comes from the old whaling days, when the whalers determined they were the "right" whales to hunt because they are slow and easy to catch, they often come close to the land, and because of their thick blubber, they conveniently floated when they were killed. They were highly prized for their blubber and their long baleen which was used for things such as buggy whips and corsets.
  • Between the 17th and 19th centuries, These beautiful animals were almost wiped out! They are still on the endangered list even though they have been under international protection since 1940! Their population does not increase very fast because it takes 10 years for a female to mature and then they only have one calf per year. The Northern Rights are the most endangered with populations of several hundred. The population does not appear to be growing.
  • Physiologically, the group is distinguished by long, elastic baleen plates, bowed lower jaw, narrow rostrum, and a smooth chin and belly.

Southern Right

Southern Right Whale, Mother and Calf, Valdes Penin
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  • Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) are found in the world's southern oceans, along the coasts of South America, southern Africa, southern
  • Australia and around the whole New Zealand.
  • They can weigh up to 80 tons. There are about 7,000 of them.

North Pacific

There are two species in the Northern Hemisphere. The North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica) is found in northern Pacific waters. There are only about 200 individuals left. The other is the North Atlantic.

North Atlantic
North Atlantic Right Whale Breaching in the Bay of Fundy
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  • Most of (Eubalaena glacialis) are found in north western Atlantic waters, along the coast of America, while the eastern populations along European coasts have virtually vanished.
  • The western populations migrate between the coast of Maine, Newfoundland and Labrador which are their summer feeding grounds, and the coasts of Florida and Georgia, which are their winter breeding grounds.


"A Hanging Seive of Baleen on a North Atlantic Right Whale Calf"

A hanging sieve of baleen on a North Atlantic right whale calf
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  • They are up to 17 meters long and weigh up to 70 tons.
  • Their mouth begins above the eye.
  • They have no dorsal fin.
  • They have callosities on their head.
  • They eat zooplankton and krill. 
  • They can live for at least 50 years but like other right whales, they were hunted in the old whaling days, when their populations decreased considerably. There are only between 300 and 400 North Atlantics now.
A Bowhead Whale, Also Known as a Greenland Right Whale
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  • Bowhead Whales, (also called "Greenland Right Whales"),(Balaena mysticetus) belong to a different genus from the whales above.
  • They are found in northern waters of both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans - along the coasts of Greenland, northernmost Canada, Alaska and eastern Russia.
  • They are a little smaller than the whales above, but can still weight up to 60 tons.
  • Their population is having a hard time rebounding from the whaling days.
  • There are only about 9,000 individuals left and the species is dependent on conservation.

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