Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Right Whales and Bowhead Whales: Balaenidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Right Whales And Bowhead Whales And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT

Right Whales and Bowhead Whales: Balaenidae - North Atlantic Right Whale (eubalaena Glacialis): Species Accounts

waters feeding feed warmer

Physical characteristics: North Atlantic right whales are usually 43 to 53 feet (13 to 16 meters) in length and can weigh up to 100 tons (91 metric tons). They are black, but can have white areas on their belly and chin. Like other right whales, they have rough areas of skin that appear bumpy around their head. Barnacles and whale lice live in these bumps.


Geographic range: North Atlantic right whales are found throughout the seas and oceans of the Northern Hemisphere.


Habitat: These whales spend most of their time in shallow coastal waters. They migrate between cold polar waters for feeding and warmer southern waters for birthing and feeding their young.


Diet: North Atlantic right whales feed on almost any small marine animal that it can filter through its baleen. They are known to feed at the surface and to also dive in order to feed off the ocean floor where the water is not too deep.

North Atlantic right whales migrate between cold polar waters for feeding and warmer southern waters for birthing and feeding their young. (Illustration by Michelle Meneghini. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: These whales usually dive for ten to twenty minutes. They are slow swimmers. Males compete over a female by pushing and shoving each other. The young are born in the warmer waters during winter and they are fed by their mother for a year after birth.


North Atlantic right whales and people: North Atlantic right whales have been hunted for almost a thousand years because of the meat, oil, and baleen that they can provide. Today large amounts of money are spent on preserving and restoring the small remaining population. They are also an important part of the whale watching industry.


Conservation status: North Atlantic right whales are Endangered. It is estimated that fewer than 250 exist in the world today. Because of accidents with fishing vessels and accidental entanglement in fishing nets, these whales have had a difficult time recovering their numbers. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Hess, Bill. Gift of the Whale: The Inupiat Bowhead Hunt, a Sacred Tradition. Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1999.

Kraus, Scott, and Ken Malory. The Search for the Right Whale. New York: Crown Publishers, 1993.

Paulson, Dennis, and Les Beletsky. Alaska: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001.

Web sites:

"Family Balaenidae (Bowhead Whales and Right Whales)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Balaenidae.html (accessed on July 8, 2004).

International Whaling Commission. http://www.iwcoffice.org (accessed on July 8, 2004).

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