North Atlantic Right Whale

Mothers and juvenile from above

Mothers and juvenile from above

Distrubution map

Distrubution map

 

Taxonomy

Scientific name: Eubalaena glacialis. 
Order: Artiodactyla.
Family: Balaenidae.
Genus: Eubalaena.

 

IUCN Status

Critically endangered

 

Other names

Tube whale.
Biscayan right whale.
Biscay whale.
Black right whale.

 

Appearance

Large whales that can grow up to 18.5 meters in length. Have a large, bulky head which are about 1/3 of their whole-body length. They appear blackish with white patches on their underbelly, with white growths on the top of their head called callosities. North Atlantic right whales have no dorsal fins. Their bow is busy and is in a 'v' pattern. Other distinguishable features are they have large, paddle-shaped flippers and white tail flukes.

 

Habitat and distribution

As of 2019, there are only 366 north Atlantic right whales left. They are widespread throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, and have been sighted in England, Norway and the Azores.

 

Behaviour

North Atlantic right whales are very curious animals that are often seen breaching and slapping their fins on the surface. They have been seen approaching boats and small vessels as they are slow swimmers.

 

Confusion species

Fin whales: they are larger with a smaller dorsal fin that is set further back. 
Minke whales: they are much smaller, and their blow is not normally visible, and they arch their backs and tailstock on diving.

 

Confusion with other species

Fin whales: much larger with a smaller dorsal fin that is set further back. 


Minke whales: smaller whales, and their blow is not normally visible, and they arch their backs and tailstock on diving.

 

Threats

The North Atlantic right whale is the first known species of whales to be commercially exploited. Whaling ships targeted them for their meat, blubber and oil, and this almost drove this species to the edge of extinction.


Other threats that affect North Atlantic right whales are entangled in fishing gear, collisions with ships, and noise pollution.

 

Interesting facts

North Atlantic right whales can eat more than 2,500 pounds every day.