Southern right whale: characteristics and photos

Southern right whale: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The southern right whale, whose scientific name is...

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The southern right whale, whose scientific name is Eubalaena australis, belongs to the order Mysticeti. These marine mammals are amazing for their impressive features. This is why we want to explain to you what the Southern Right Whale is like in this PlanetAnimal breed sheet.

Did you know that whales, including the southern right whale, are mammals just like lions and elephants are? Sure, they're aquatic animals, but you'd be surprised how much they have in common with land mammals, including us humans.Would you like to learn more about the Southern Right Whale? It's your lucky day, because we're going to teach you all about it!


  • America
  • Antarctica
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Characteristics of the Southern Right Whale

The southern right whale is a very large baleen whale. The average weight of an adult specimen is around 40 tons, although specimens approaching 60 tons in weight have already been recorded.

" Their skin is black in color with white spots on their bellies. Their head is incredibly large, in fact it represents a third of their body. There are calluses on his body, which are areas of skin that protrude and have a minimum thickness of 5 centimeters. These calluses are unique to each whale, so they are the equivalent of our fingerprints.On these proliferate populations of cyamides, which are crustaceans known as whale lice."

Another of the characteristics of the most representative southern right whale are their baleen or the horny plates that they have inside the mouth. They usually have about 260 and they are all about 2.5 meters tall. These baleen are essential for the diet of the southern right whale, as these animals obtain their food by filtering large quantities of seawater through the baleen which retains crustaceans such as Krill, their fundamental food.

Size of the Southern Right Whale

A southern right whale is a spectacularly large animal, averaging between 13 and 15 meters in length for males and around 16 meters for females. They are affected by what is called sexual dimorphism, which means that there are such physical differences between males and females that it is possible to distinguish them at first glance.

As for the calves, the latter are also of considerable size, because a southern right whale that has just been born is between 3 and 5 meters long in total.

Feeding the Southern Right Whale

As we said in the previous box, the southern right whale feeds mainly on krill. However, this is not the only food it feeds on, in fact, it consumes a lot of zooplankton (small organisms that live in the sea or in fresh water).

Now fine, if you're wondering how a southern right whale eats, the answer is the same as the rest of the whales: they eat by filtering their food. When they open their mouths, water and animals are sucked in, so their food is stuck in their baleen. Find out more about the whale's diet in this article: What does a whale eat?

Southern Right Whale Habitat

The southern right whale lives in several regions of the world between latitudes 20º and 60º along the South Atlantic Ocean, the South Indian Ocean, the South Pacific as well as in Antarctica. In fact, these whales live only in the southern hemisphere, preferring cold waters, more specifically sub-Antarctic waters. It is common to see them near land masses as well as islands.

Migration of the southern right whale

The southern right whale makes two types of migrations. The first has to do with foraging and the second has to do with reproduction. We do not know exactly the routes followed by southern right whales during their migration. However, we are 100% sure that there are populations of southern right whales that will reproduce in the Valdés peninsula, where they arrive in the month of May/June and from where they depart between the months of October and December.Once the reproduction has taken place, what is called a trophic migration occurs, of which we just know that the migratory zones are included in the vicinity of the Antarctic convergence.

Reproduction of the southern right whale

Whales, including the Southern Frank, are sexually reproducing mammals. The southern right whale migrates at the end of winter (May/June) to its breeding grounds. It happens once every 3 years because, between the pregnancy, which lasts about 12 months, and the education of the calves, the female whales will be very busy.

" A southern right whale is sexually mature when it is around 5/6 years old. The mothers are responsible for raising the young, as the male whale does not take care of his young at all. The calves grow very quickly, in fact, their size increases by 3.5 cm per day. This is possible thanks to the nutritious milk given by their mother, who breastfeeds them for long periods until they reach 12 months of life.From this age, the calves become sub-adults, because they are not yet sexually mature and they constantly play with each other."

Are the southern right whale endangered?

To finalize our fact sheet on the southern right whale, we will talk to you about a delicate subject that absolutely must be taken into consideration: its possible extinction. The southern right whale has suffered from whaling for centuries, as whalers believed this type of whale was easy prey due to its giant size, slow movement and the fact that a strong kill, their body floats on the surface. This uncontrolled hunting has caused the number of right whales to drastically decrease, bringing this magnificent animal species to the brink of extinction.

For this reason, southern right whale hunting has been completely banned worldwide, which has allowed their situation to gradually improve.Today, although still threatened, southern right whale populations are gradually recovering. This is also the reason why the IUCN does not consider this species endangered.

Photos of Southern Right Whale

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