Northern Right Whale

Northern Right Whale
Northern Right Whale

Right whales are primarily solitary animals, although sometimes they are found in pairs.

The growths, or callosities, on their head are distinctive enough to identify individuals.


They move slowly through the water with their mouth partially agape, straining plankton with their baleen plates.

Only about three hundred to six hundred of them still exist because of overhunting for centuries for their oil, meat, and baleen (whalebone).

Their common name stems from their being the "right" whale to hunt: They were among the most valuable of whales; they swim slowly, close to shore; and once killed, their carcasses float, or "right" themselves.

Animal Facts

Name: Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)

Family: Balaenidae (Right and Bowhead Whales)

Range: Northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans

Habitat: Coastal waters

Diet: Krill and other small crustaceans

Weight: 66,000 to 180,000 pounds (30,000 to 80,000 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating February to April; gestation 365 days, one calf born

Description: Mostly black in color; white callosities on and around the head; robust and heavy-bodied; strongly bowed lower jaw; no dorsal fin; huge, ridged flippers; V-shaped spout

Conservation Status: Endangered

Major Threat: Human disturbance

What Can I Do?: Visit The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and The Ocean Conservancy for information on how you can help.