North Atlantic right whale

Eubalaena glacialis
North Atlantic right whale


Size: max 15-16.5m

Key features:
- V shaped blow
- Irregular white patches on its underside
- No dorsal fin
- Large head covered in callosities
- Paddle shaped pectoral fins

The North Atlantic right whale has a large head which can take up ¼ of its total body length with a strongly arched mouth line. It has callosities situated on its lower head and lip, these can be pink, yellow or orange in colour due to whale lice living on them. Researchers can tell individuals apart by the shape of the callosities. They have large paddle-shaped pectoral fins and the largest testes in the world, with each teste weighing about a tonne.


North Atlantic right whales are curious playful animals that like to breach and slap their fins on the surface often bumping into objects they find in the water. They like to approach slow moving vessels as they are slow swimmers.


This species of whale is restricted to the North Atlantic with less than 300 individuals left. Once widespread across the Atlantic it is now confined to coasts of Canada and North America.


The North Atlantic right whale population was decimated by whalers in the 1900’s and since then has struggled to increase. Their name came from the whaling era when they were ‘the right whale to kill’ because they floated once killed. Threats for North Atlantic right whales are entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, threatened habitat loss and human disturbance.


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