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Facts About the Right Whale

Shweta Ajwani
Much larger than the humpback and gray whale, but significantly smaller than the blue whale, the right whale is one of a kind. In this AnimalSake article, we'll take a look at some interesting facts about the right whale and some of its general characteristics, as well.

Identifying a Right Whale ...

... look for distinctive grayish-white callosities (rough patches of skin) on the head of the whale to identify it.
Right whales are a group of three species of huge baleen whales that belong to the genus Eubalaena. The three species are the North Atlantic right whale (E. glacialis), North Pacific right whale (E. japonica), and the Southern right whale (E. australis). Baleen whales are whales that have baleen plates instead of teeth, that help them filter food from the water.
All three species of this genus migrate on a regular basis for hunting, feeding, and mating. The northern and southern species are separated from each other by a barrier that is formed by warm equatorial waters. Their feeding habits change depending on their location.
Right whales are submissive and docile in nature, and swim close to the ocean surface and coast. In addition to this, the proportion of blubber on their bodies is exceptionally high, which makes them float when killed, and also yields large amounts of whale oil. Since these whales were easily accessible to fishermen, they were named 'right' whales.

Scientific Classification of the Right Whale

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Balaenidae
Genus: Eubalaena
Mentioned below are details in respect to the right whale's habitat, diet, mating, and reproduction, as well as its relationship with humans, and its conservation status.

Physical Description

The right whale is slightly different from other whales in appearance. Distinctive white callosities that are rough, grayish-white patches on the back of its head, set it apart. These callosities appear white in color because of the presence of large colonies of cyamids or whale lice. Even the belly of a right whale is covered with white patches.
They grow up to 59 feet and can weigh up to 100 tons. An average adult right whale could be between 36 - 59 feet long, and could weigh between 54 - 71 tons. More than 40% of their body weight is made up of low density blubber (a thick layer of vascularized tissue). The fluke of a right whale's tail is broad and its blow is distinctively V-shaped.
Right whales are baleen whales and have more than 200 baleen plates on each side of their mouth which help them filter food from the water. Although the blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, it is the right whale who takes credit for having the largest testicles. The testicles of a right whale are ten times larger than those of a blue whale.


All three species of the genus Eubalaena have adapted to survive temperatures that are moderate, and anywhere between 20 to 60 degrees in latitude. Each whale species inhabits waters in different parts of the globe. The North Atlantic right whale is mostly found in parts of the western Atlantic Ocean, whereas the North Pacific right whale is found in waters of the band that ranges from Japan to Alaska, and all areas of the Southern Ocean as well. Right whales prefer staying closer to peninsulas,

Mating and Reproduction

The mating season for right whales does not occur during a specific time in the year. The females typically breed every three to four years. As many as 20 male right whales consort one female. In a peculiar setting, the males stroke the belly of the female. The gestation period in right whales is one year and both reproduction and calving takes place in winter. The young ones, or calves, of the right whale are born weighing 1 short ton, and are 13 to 20 feet in length. Initially, during the firs


Known as extreme opportunistic feeders, right whales primarily feed on zooplankton, smaller crustaceans called copepods, krill, and pteropods. Unlike other whales, right whales have baleens on both sides of their mouth. They swim with an open mouth. The prey enters along with the water inside the whale's mouth.
The whales then select their prey on the basis of size, speed, and number. It should be large and slow enough to not escape the baleens, and also large in number to satisfy the animal's.

Conservation Status

Right whales are slow swimmers. Moreover, they swim close to the water surface, which makes them easy prey. Also, owing to its blubber content which yields tremendous amounts of whale oil, the right whale was hunted in extremely large numbers. At the start of the 20th century, whaling picked up pace and right whales were the most hunted.
Although the numbers of right whales have revived, thanks to the effective bans, it is up to us to retain their population. Right whaling should not be encouraged. This beautiful species needs to be conserved and protected from possible endangerment.