Cetaceans / Baleen Whales

Rorqual Whales

They are the largest group of the baleen whales with nice extant species and two genders. They generally migrate long distances between warm-water winter breeding grounds and cold-water summer feeding grounds. The word "rorqual" comes from the Norwegian word rorhval, which means “furrow”, the name refers to the many folds of skin, or throat grooves, that extend from underneath the lower jaw to behind the flippers. These grooves allow a tremendous expansion of the mouth cavity.

Rorqual feeding:

Whale seeks out a good feeding area, where water is teeming with fish or krill;

It swims along with its mouth open, taking in huge quantities of seawater;

Sheer volume of water begins to distend its throat as pleat pull apart;

Pleats contract as mouth closes, water is forced out, and prey is caught inside baleen.

Ilustrations: Fishpics® & IMAR-DOP, UAç

    Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

    It is the smallest and most abundant of the rorquals. It has a black back, dark gray, or brown upper side, and white, pale gray, or pale brown underside. It has white bands on flipper , in some populations. Normally difficult to approach, but some individuals are quite inquisitive and will investigates boats.

    Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeanglieae)

    One of the most energetic of the large whales, is well known for its spectacular breaching, lobtailing, and flipper-slapping. It can usually be distinguished by its unique fluke, its knobbly head and long flippers. It has blue-black, black, or dark gray upper side. It has a low, stubby fin with a hump. Shows little fear of boats and may be highly inquisitive. The blow is very visible and distinctive, it is bushy and wide.

    Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni)

    It is strikingly similar to the Sei Whale, but unlike Sei Whale, this whale arches its tail stock before a dive. It is poorly known. Occasionally inquisitive and will approach boats, circling them or swimming alongside. It has three longitudinal ridges on the top of its head, and it has a smoky gray coloration. The dorsal fin is prominent and falcate.

    Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

    Is the largest animal , ever to have lived on earth. This whale was hunted close to extinction by whaling industry. the mortality rates were so high that some populations , may , never recover. It has a pale blue-gray coloration, mottled with pale gray or white spots. It has a "U-shaped head". It has a tiny, stubby fin , set far back. The blow appears as a slender, vertical column of spray rising from 6 at 12 meters. high.

    Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)

    This is the second largest animal on earth. It is known to grow to more than 26 meters in length. It has an asymmetrical head pigmentation: on the right side, the lower lip, mouth cavity, and some of the baleen plates are white; the left side is uniformly gray. When swimming just bellow the surface, the white lip is often clearly visible. Once one of the most abundant of the large whales, this whale was heavily exploited by whaling industry, and its population has been severely depleted.

    Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis)

    These whales were heavily exploited by whaling industry, especially during the 60 and 70, where the population has been severely depleted. It is predominantly bluish gray, dark gray, or black body. Underside and sides may appear mottled, with gray or white circular scars. Dorsal fin slightly further forward on body than on other rorquals, and it is slender and erect. This whale has a slender head, with a single longitudinal ridge along the top of the rostrum. The relative size of the head to body increases with age. The blow appears as a narrow cloud, and can rise up to 3 meters, it resembles the blows of Blue Whale and Fin Whale. More regular dive sequence than most other rorquals and stays near the surface more consistently. Dive sequence: The head usually rises at a shallow angle, but rises more steeply when being chased, The head, major portion of the back, and sometimes , the dorsal fin may break the surface together. The narrow blow is visible.. The dorsal fin and back are visible for some time. The whale may arch its , back a little before dropping underwater, As the whale drops beneath the surface, there is little or no arching of the tail stock. The dorsal fin finally disappears.the flukes stay bellow the surface throughout the dive. .

Right Whales

Right whales comprend 3 species of large whales of the genus Eubalaena: The North Right Whale; North Pacific Right Whale; and the Southern Right Whale.

These whales have a rotund bodies with arching rostrums, with dark gray or black skin.

The most distinguished charecteristic is the rought patches of skin on its head , which appear white due to parasitism (by Whale lice).

Ilustrations: Fishpics® & IMAR-DOP, UAç

    Northern Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)

    This is one of the three species of the genus Eubalaena. They have the tendency to stay close to the shore and their high blubber content makes them to come into the surface when the're dead. This fact turned the Right Whale a preferable target to the whalers, which in some countries was considered the "right" whale (Concerning the English name the Right whale ) to hunt. In fact , the group of the right whales are among the most endangered whales in the world. It is taught that only 400 individuals exist in the North Atlantic Ocean. Although more common in the East part, some of this whales can be seen passing by the Azores Islands. The most distinguished characteristic of this species is the presence of Callosities on its head, a broad back, without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. The body is very dark grey or black, and sometimes it has with white patches on the belly. The callosities are caused by the presence of great amounts of cyamids, also called whale lice. The North Atlantic right whales reach, in average 13 the 16m in length and 40-70 tones, altough the record is set be in 18,2 meters long and 106 T.