North Pacific Right Whale

North Pacific Right Whale

Author:

Leda Kitzler

North Pacific Right Whale

Common Name: North Pacific Right Whale

Scientific Name: Eubalaena japonica

Size Range: The Right Whale can reach from 16 m to 18.3 (60ft) in length, with the female being larger than the male.

Identifying features:  The Right Whale is the third largest whale on earth, after the Finback and Blue Whale. It is the only whale that does not have a dorsal fin. Right Whales also have a cluster of callosities on their head and back, mainly behind the blowhole, and instead of teeth they have baleen plates, which are fiber-like brushes that separate food from sea water. One of the main physical features of the North Pacific Right Whale is its highly arched jaw. The identifying colors and patterns of the North Pacific Right Whale are mainly blue, with its underbelly spotted white, and their chin being darker in color than the rest of its body.

Habitat:  The main habitat for the North Pacific Right Whale ranges from the sea of Okhotsk, in eastern Russia, (mainly in the summer) to the western coast of Canada, and are sometimes seen along the coast of Japan. The North Pacific Right Whale has been seen a number of times across the coast of British Columbia, mainly in the mid-1900’s and have lately been seen around northern B.C.

Prey (food):  Just as many of the other species of whale, the North Pacific Right Whale feeds mainly on copepods,  such as Calanas marshallae, and has occasionally been seen feeding on the euphausiid larvae Euphausia pacifica.

Life Cycle:  The life cycle of the Right Whale is similar to many other species of whale. The females reach their maturity around 8 years of age. They then travel to their breeding grounds (the coast of Japan) to mate with a selected bull. These bulls attract mates by singing songs and displays of physical strength. The two whales will begin their relationship much in the way that humans do. They show affection through rubbing they’re dorsal fins together. The female whale is pregnant for around 13 months. She then returns to the breeding ground to give birth in more temperate waters. The bull whales leave the main pod and form a bachelor pod comprised of several other bulls of the same age.  The bull whales then search for other mates, and never return to their calves. The maturing calf will leave its mother when it is around one year old. The average North Pacific Right Whale will live up to an average of 60 years, with some living up to 80 years old.

References:

Keet, A. (2008) North Pacific Right Whale – Eubalaena japonica. Whale Species.   Retrieved May 9, 2012. http://www.whales.org.za/species/north-pacific-right-whale.aspx

NOAA Fisheries. (April 20, 2012) North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica). Office of protected resources. Retrieved May 9, 2012. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/rightwhale_northpacific.htm

IUCN. (2012) Eubalaena japonica. The IUCN list of threatened species. Retrieved May 9, 2012.  http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/41711/0

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