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Scientific Name: Eubalaena glacialis
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Balaenidae
Size: 11 - 18 m
Weight: 30000 - 80000 Kg
Group Size: 1 - 20 individuals
Habitat: Inshore (sometimes Offshore)
Hemisphere: North Only
Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
The commonly used "Right Whale" name corresponds actually to 3 scientifically distinct species:
  • Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
  • North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica)
  • Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis)
The name "Right Whale" was given by whalers. These whales are in fact slow swimmers, and due to their very high fat content they also naturally floated when killed. Because of that they were the "right" whales to hunt.

The 3 species of Right Whales share some important and distinctive features:
  • Very bulky, fatty body
  • Lack of a dorsal fin
  • Presence of callosities over the head, especially where men do normally have hair (chin, above the eyes, along the vertical axis of the head from the blowhole to the top of the snout)
  • Slow swimmer, nonetheless quite acrobatic
  • V-shaped blow, unique among whales (even if all Mysticeti have 2 blowholes)
  • Very long baleens
  • Large, paddle-like pectoral fins
  • Flukes with a distinct notch, and very smooth trailing edges
  • White patches on the belly
  • No pleats (throat grooves)
The Atlantic Right Whale only inhabits the Atlantic portion of the Northern Hemisphere.
It is by far the most endangered whale species, and sits on the edge of extinction, if not already beyond it.
Fewer than 400 individuals remain, and the popoulation is still declining (source: North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium).

According to the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium only 11 calves are born on average every year, which is 1/3 of the expected birth rate and less than the present death rate.
The main causes of high accidental mortality are ship strikes and entanglements in fishing nets.

The Atlantic Right Whale finds its major feeding grounds in some regions of Canada (Bay of Fundy, Browns Bank) and United States (Great South Channel of Nantucket). Its diet is mostly based on Copepods (genus Calanus) and other young Zooplankton, which are filtered by slowly skimming the water surface.
When feeding, the Atlantic Right Whale swims at a speed of no more than 3 km/h (less than 2 miles/hour).
Because of that, it needs very high concentrations of food, up to 2.5kg/m3.
Its feeding habits may therefore represent a further obstacle towards the recovering of this species.