Southern right whale

Species profile

Name: the southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) is a baleen whale. It is one of three species belonging to the ‘right whale’ family.

Appearance: southern right whales have broad backs with no dorsal fins and long arching mouths that begin above the eye. Like other right whales, they are distinguished by the callosities on their heads. The function of these is not clear although it is suspected that they may be related to protection from predators.

Size: adults measure around 15 metres and weigh up to 47 tonnes. Their testicles are likely to be the largest of any animal – each weighing around half a tonne!

Diet: they feed mainly on krill, plankton, and tiny crustaceans which they filter from the water with their baleen plates.

Did you know: southern right whales are known for being active on the surface of the water and curious towards humans. One behaviour that is thought to be unique to the southern right whale is ‘tail sailing’ – where they raise their tails out of the water and use them to catch the wind, apparently as a form of play.

Location: they spend the summer in the Southern Ocean feeding close to Antarctica before migrating north in winter for breeding. During this time they can be seen off the coasts of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Namibia, Mozambique, Peru, Tristan de Cunha, Uruguay, Madagascar, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Best places to see southern right whales

According to reports submitted to WildSide, the best places to see southern right whales are as follows:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Valdes Peninsula
very high
very good

Photo credit: shomilin under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay

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