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Bryde's Whale

Bryde's Whale

Bryde's Whale

Bryde's Whale in South Atlantic - Image Credit: Zejulio CC-BY-SA-4.0

Bryde's whale distribution map

Bryde's whale distribution map

Bryde's whale distribution map reproduced under GNU Free Documentation License and


Scientific name: Balaenoptera edeni
Order:  Artiodactyla (Cetacea)
Family: Balaenopteridea
Genus: Balaenoptera

IUCN Status

Least concern

Other names

Common Bryde's whale (B. edeni brydei)

Edens' whale (B. edeni edeni)

Pygmy Bryde's whale (B. edeni omurai)


Bryde's whales can be up to 15 metres in length, and have long, streamlined bodies. The head takes up to 1/4 of a whale's entire body length. A distinguishing feature is they have 3 ridges in front of their blowhole. They are dark grey, sometimes bluish, and often have scars due to parasites.

The dorsal fin is 2/3 to 3/4 back to the flukes; it is normally relatively tall, swept back and falcate with a fine tip. The Bryde's whale is the only whale that has an extra ridge on the rostrum, either side of the main rostral ridge. 

Currently, there are at least two subspecies of Bryde’s that have been identified. Eden’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni edeni) is a smaller form found in the Indian and western Pacific oceans, primarily in coastal waters.

The common Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni brydei) is a larger form, found primarily in pelagic waters including the Atlantic. The Bryde's whale's "pygmy form" has only recently been described and is now known as Omura's whale (Balaenoptera omurai).

Habitat and distribution

Bryde's whales are found in oceans all over the world. They have a wide distribution around the center of the world, occurring in tropical, subtropical, and warm waters. 

Bryde's whales are not very commonly sighted in the north-east Atlantic; the last photograph of a Bryde's whale by MARINElife was in 2010, in the southern region of the Bay of Biscay.


Bryde's whales are mostly solitary animals but have been seen in pairs. Groups of up to 20 individuals can be spotted in areas where there is a large congregation of food. When they are feeding, they have been seen skimming the surface, lunging, and creating bubble nets. Bryde’s whales blow every 20-40 seconds for up to 5 minutes, and the blow can reach 10 to 13 feet in the air.

Confusion with other species

Bryde's whales are often mistaken for other species of whales:

  • Sei whale: similar size to the Bryde's whales but have darker skin and a taller dorsal fin.

  • Fin whale: larger than a Bryde's whale and has a stronger blow. The dorsal fin is more blunt. 


Bryde’s whales are hunted by whaling ships in Japan for ‘scientific research’. They are also threatened by noise and chemical pollution.

Interesting facts

Bryde’s whale is not pronounced "Bride's" but more like "Brew-dah's".  They are named for Johan Bryde, a Norwegian whaler operating from South Africa in the early 20th century.

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