Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Sub-order: Mysticetes
Family: Balaenidae, Neobalaenidae, Eschrichtiidae and Balaenopteridae


This family consists of three species:

The Northern Right Whale (eubalaena glacialis):
This is the most endangered whale in the world. It lives in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There heads are covered in black lice, callosities. They feed on zooplankton and copepods.

The Southern Right Whale (eubalaena australis):
It feeds on euphausiids, copepods and zooplankton. It closely resembles the Northern Right Whale, but is considered a separate species. They are found in temperate and sub-polar waters south of the equator.

The Bowhead Whale (balaena mysticetus):
This whale lives in the Artic Ocean. It is adapted to this by a thick layer of blubber. They travel in groups (pods) of up to six whales. There are around 7,000 left in the world today. Commercial whaling has significantly reduced their numbers. They can live over 200 years.

Eschrichtiidae :

This family consists of one species only, this is the Gray Whale (eschrichtius robustus). This whale is found around the North Pacific. It has a vast migration distance, which it follows every year. They eat amphipods, polychaetes, isopods and tubeworms.

Neobalaenidae :

This family consists of the Pygmy Right Whale (capera marginata). This is the smallest Baleen Whale, the largest being up to 6m long. They are found around and near Australia as well as in the South Atlantic. The female is larger than the male.

Balaenopteridae (Rorqual Whales):

There are six main species of Balaenopteridae:

The Blue Whale (balaenoptera musculus):

The name ‘sulfur-bottom’ often given to this species comes from the colour of the yellow algae found on the bodies of some of these whales. Once the most important of the commercially hunted baleen whales, the blue whale significantly decreased in numbers during the late 19th and the early 20th century. The blue whale is found alone or in small clusters in all of the oceans. It spends the summer in polar seas, feeding on krill, and in winter moves toward the Equator to breed. It is the largest of all mammals. It eats 4 tons of food per day.

The Fin Whale (balaenoptera physalus):

This is the second largest mammal, reaching 27m in length. It is found anywhere from warm temperate waters to the Arctic Ocean. Fin whales eat schoaling fish, euphausiids, copepods, squid and a range of invertebrates, and they have been spotted circling schools of fish at high speed. They can devour up to two tons of food per day.

The Sei Whale (balaenoptera borealis):

They are average size balaenopterids. They are found in tropical to sub-polar waters. They eat small fish and squid, as well as other similar things.

Bryde’s Whale (balaenoptera edeni):

Found in tropical and sub-tropical waters. They make short migrations. Bryde’s whales are smaller than Sei whales, They eat at the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, feeding on invertebrates, where they live and feed either alone or in groups of five or more. Some also feed in Tosa Bay, Japan.

The Humpback Whale (balaenoptera novaeangliae):

Barnacles often attach themselves to humpback whales. They eat around 1-1.5 tons of food per day. They feed on krill, and occasionally, some types of shoaling fish. They communicate to each other by singing. There are around 15,000-20,000 in the world, many thousands have been killed through whaling, but their numbers are now increasing. They live worldwide.

The Minke Whale (balaenoptera acutorostrata):

The Minke whale is the smallest and most common balaenopterid, with an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 worldwide. They are still subject to whaling. They feed either in pairs, or in group consisting of up to 100 whales.

Encyclopedia Britannica

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