Photo: Paula Faiferman
Southern Hemisphere, between the latitudes of 20° and 64° South.
Adult females can grow to lengths of 17 meters (55.8 feet) and are larger than adult males, which can be 15 meters long (49 feet). Adults weigh about 40 tons (about 80,000 pounds).
These are baleen whales (called mysticetes) which filter their food through hundreds of baleen plates up to 2.5 meters long which grow from their upper jaw. Baleen is made of keratin plates with hair-like bristles and acts like a sieve, trapping the whale’s prey. Right whales feed on small crustaceans, mainly krill and copepods, and can eat up to two tons of these tiny prey per day in summer.
Females are about 9 years old when they give birth to their first calf. They have a calf every three years. Normally they are pregnant for one year, then nurse their calf for one year, and finally recover reserves and body condition for one year before they mate again and have another calf.
Calf size: calves are about 4 meters long (14 feet) at birth and weigh one ton (2,000 pounds); at 3 months of age calves grow to lengths of 8 meters (26 feet) and weigh between 7 and 8 tons (about 16,000 pounds).
Nursing time: calves nurse for about one year. During their first weeks of life, calves can gain up to 150 kilograms (330 pounds) per day.
“The prima donna of the seas” infographic was published in Clarin newspaper’s / Viva magazine on November 9, 2008.
Source: Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas. www.ballenas.org.ar