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Northern Right Whale Balaena glacialis


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Northern Right Whale, showing baleen
credit: Pcb21

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Alternate name: Black Right Whale

Family: Balaenidae, Right Whales view all from this family

Description Large black whale with large callosities and no dorsal fin. Smooth slope of back is different from Bowhead’s double-hump profile. Flukes and wedge-shaped flippers are black with limited mottling. Body is black except for variable amounts of white on belly. Blow is V-shaped. This slow, inquisitive whale was the “right” whale to hunt and was nearly driven to extinction. Modern recovery is slowed by mortality from fishing gear entanglement and collisions with ships. Still highly endangered, only about 300 animals survive (red area on map).

Dimensions 11-18m, 60,000-100,000kg

Endangered Status The Northern Right Whale is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in its entire range along the eastern coast of the U.S. (Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia). This whale was hunted nearly to extinction, and commercial hunting of right whales has been banned for nearly 100 years. Collecting Northern Right Whales for scientific research has taken a toll in the last century, and the species does not appear to be recovering. With probably fewer than 1,000 individuals world-wide, the species is considered to be very close to extinction.

Habitat Offshore waters

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, California, Northwest, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska