National Geograhic photographer swimming with Southern Right Whale

Interesting Facts

The Eubalaena australis is known as the Southern Right Whale because at the height of whaling efforts this enormous whale was called the “right” whale to catch, not only because of its large size and slow movements, but since the whale would float when dead. Southern Right Whales were the first great whale to be hunted regularly by whalers.

The Southern Right Whale is a baleen whale meaning that it does not have teeth, but instead uses baleen plates made of keratin that hangs down inside the mouth. Eubalaena australis can have up to 270 plates of baleen on each side of the mouth, that can be as long as 9 feet each!

Southern right whale skim feeding at surface, baleen visible from Nature Picture Library

Southern right whales have the highest degree of kidney lobulation noted in mammals. It was determined by Kamiya (1958) that a kidney weighing 32.4 kg from a 11.7-meter long female had 5,377 reniculi, many of which were fused. When compared to other cetaceans, southern right whales have at least five times the amount of kidney reniculi (Cummings 1985).

Southern Right Whale drawn by Morgan Langworthy

While Southern Right Whales have no dorsal fins, the Reef Shark has 2 dorsal fins!


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