Eubalaena glacialis   Muller,  1776 (Whale)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Mammalia

Size: Adults range in length to 17 m, but may occasionally reach 18 m. Females are larger than males. Newborns are 4.5 to 6 m long.

Weight: Adults weigh up to 80-100 tons.

Color: Most of these are entirely black, but in some, large white patch of varying dimension exist on the belly and the chin.

It is one of the stockiest of all whales. It has a massive head that can be up to nearly one-third of its body length. The jawline is arched and the upper jaw is very narrow in dorsal view. The flippers are broad and tend to be more fan-shaped than the pointed flippers of most other cetaceans. There is no dorsal fin or dorsal ridge on the broad back. The flukes are very wide and smoothly tapered, with a smooth trailing edge and a deep notch. The widely separated blowholes produce a V-shaped blow up to 5 m high. Inside the mouth are 200 to 270 long thin baleen plates, which may reach nearly 3 m in length. They are brownish grey to black in color. The fringes of these plates are very fine, reflecting the small prey taken by this species.

The mating system appears to involve sperm competition (males competing to inseminate females, not so much by physical aggression, as by delivering large loads of sperm, thereby displacing that of other males). Calving occurs in winter.

They are mostly seen in groups of less than 12 (most often singles or pairs). Larger groups may form on feeding or breeding grounds. They can be aerially active and generally raise their flukes before a deep dive.

Similar species: The Right Whale may be confused with Bow Head, however, the latter lack callosities and the former have white patch only on the belly.

Synonym (s)
Balaena biscayensis Eschricht, 1860
Balaena cisarctica Cope, 1865
Balaena eubalaena Gray, 1871
Balaena glacialis glacialis Scheffer & Rice, 1963
Balaena islandica Gmelin, 1788
Balaena mediterranea Gray, 1870
Balaena mysticetus islandica Kerr, 1792
Balaena nordcaper Lacepede, 1804
Balaena tarentina Capellini, 1873
Balaena vanbenedeniana Fischer, 1881
Balaena vanbenediana Capellini, 1873
Baloena glacialis Robineau, 1989
Eubalaena glacialis glacialis Tomilin, 1957
Hunterius swedenborgii Lilljeborg, 1867
Macleayius britannicus Gray, 1870

Common Name (s)
• Northern Right Whale (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Their thick blubber places a cash value and invites hunting. Also sought for their long flexible baleen (used for many of the same purposes as plastic is today).)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Commercial whaling)

Habitat:  Open Sea
Prey:  Calanoid copepods and other small invertebrates (smaller copepods, krill, pteropods, and larval barnacles). The most common prey species is the copepod Calanus finmarchicus.
IUCN Status:  Endangered



Literature Source(s)
  • Borkar, M (2005) Marine mammals, turtles and crocodiles: A field manual NIO, Goa 63 pp Available at - NIO
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Jefferson, TA; Leatherwood, S and Webber, MA (2006) Marine mammals of the world World biodiversity database Available at -

Page last updated on:2010-07-23

Back to Search