The Right Whale

Southern - (Eubalaena australis)
Northern - (Eubalaena glacialis)

Length:15-18 metres (60-72 feet) Lifespan: 40 years

Northern and Southern Hemisphere species are identical externally and probably should not have separate specific status (the southern species is know as Balaena australis and the northern species is know as Balaena glacialis).

The body is robust and narrows rapidly in front of the huge tail flukes. Its colour is black (occasionally brown) and sometimes mottled, with white patches on the chin and belly. The head is large comprising 30% of the length of the body. The area around the blowholes, head and jaws have several large white, grey or yellowish skin callosites. There are numerous hairs on the chin and upper jaw. A long narrow rostrum suspends the baleen plates on each side of the upper jaw. The baleen is usually dark brown, dark grey or black but may be pale grey or white in younger animals.

Right whale Dive Sequence

The Right whale has a broad back with no fin. It has broad smooth flukes deeply notched with a concave trailing edge and pointed tips. The flippers are large and spatulate with an angular outer edge.

The blow is wide and V-shaped due to the wide separation of the two blowholes. It can reach 5m (16ft) high and may appear as one jet from the side or in the wind. Breathing sequence involves 5 to 10 minutes at the surface, blowing once every minute, followed by a dive for 10-20 minutes sometimes longer.

The Right whale is a slow, lumbering swimmer, but is often acrobatic. It often breaches, sometimes up to 10 times or more in a row. The splash can be heard from up to 1km (3/4 mile) away. It may also wave a flipper above the surface, flipper-slap, lobtail and head-stand. Sometimes raised flukes in the air are used as sails, allowing the wind to push it through the water. This appears to be a playful activity as animals have often been seen swimming back to do it again.

The Right whale is an inquisitive and playful whale and has been observed poking, bumping or pushing objects around that are in the water. During breeding season and mostly at night the Right whale often bellows and moans loudly.

Bibliography Whales on the Net

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