I’m a hard animal to miss: I can grow up to 49 feet in length! My head is absolutely massive and can reach up to a third of my body length. I have a series of spiked growths on my head called callosities, the largest of which, called the bonnet, is on the tip of my nose. Sometimes these callosities have a pink, orange or yellow hue caused by whale lice. I have a set of baleen plates that I use to feed—I gulp up hundreds of gallons of seawater and filter out the plankton with my baleen.
Because there so few of us in the wild, scientists know fairly little about our migration habits or habitat preferences. They do know a bit about our breeding habits, though: we breed in the winter and spring, and females carry their calves for a full 12 months before giving birth.There are only an estimated 500 North Pacific right whales remaining in the wild.
Did You Know?
There are only an estimated 500 North Pacific right whales remaining in the wild.
We are called right whales because we used to be considered the “right” whales to hunt. We are easier to capture than other species because we are easy to approach, we float when dead (so are easy to catch) and have a lot of oil in our blubber, which was lucrative for whale hunters. Because of increased hunting pressure, we almost became extinct in the 1900s. Now, along with the North Atlantic right whale, we are one of the most endangered whales.
Unlike the North Atlantic right whale, there isn’t much evidence that we are majorly impacted by ship strikes or entanglement in fishing gear. This could be because we are found in pretty remote regions, or there isn’t enough research to know for sure.