Right Whale Facts
- Firstly, the incredible Right Whale is actually a genus consisting of three species. These include the North Atlantic, the North Pacific, and also the Southern Right Whale.
- Most notably, perhaps, all three species evolved as highly migratory, moving seasonally to feed or give birth.
- Today, the North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales are among the most endangered whales in the world. Both species are protected in the United States by the Endangered Species Act.
- Sadly, however, this protection may not be enough. Due to their scant numbers, and numerous threats, the IUCN lists both populations as Critically Endangered.
Right Whale Physical Description
Above all, Right Whales can attain a length of as much as 59 ft (18 m) and weigh up to 120,000 lbs (54,431 kg). In terms of sheer size, this makes it the second largest creature on earth, after the Blue Whale.
Furthermore, the animals have very rounded bodies with arching rostrums, V-shaped blowholes, and dark gray or black skin. Also, the animal displays no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism.
But, the most distinguishing feature of this magnificent creature is the rough patches of skin on its head. These appear as a dull white due to parasitism by whale lice.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Balaenidae
- Genus: Eubalena
Right Whale Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, the majestic Right Whale inhabits both Hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere it tends to avoid open waters and stay close to peninsulas and bays and on continental shelves.
However, in the Southern Hemisphere, this animal usually lives and feeds far offshore in summer. But, a large portion of the population occurs in nearshore waters in winter.
The Right Whale feeds mainly on copepods but also consumes krill and pteropods. Individuals may forage the surface, underwater or even on the ocean bottom.
Quite sadly, Right Whales used to be a preferred target for whalers. This was partly due to its docile nature, the slow surface-skimming feeding behavior, and the tendency to stay close to the coast. But its high blubber content also made it a prime target. Fortunately, however, this practice is almost obsolete.