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a family of marine mammals of the suborder Mystacoceti. The body length is from 6 to 33 m. Fourteen to 120 longitudinal furrows are present on the chest and throat. By expanding, the furrows increase the capacity of the mouth. The broad baleen plates, which reach a length of 1 m, have a coarse fringe. The dorsal fin is well developed and located near the tail. The females are larger than the males.

Whales of the family Balaenopteridae are widely distributed in the World Ocean. They migrate regularly: in the spring the whales travel to cold waters for feeding, and in the autumn they migrate to temperate and warm waters for reproduction. The age of sexual maturity is between four and six years. The gestation period is about one year; the life span is up to 50 years.

The family has two genera, Balaenoptera and Megaptera. The first includes the finback (B. physalus), the blue whale (B. musculus), Bryde’s whale (B. edeni), the sei (B. borealis), and the lesser rorqual (B. acutorostrata). Megaptera contains a single species, the humpback whale (M. nodosa).

Owing to the intensive commercial hunting of many species of Balaenopteridae, their numbers are sharply decreasing. Some species, including the blue whale and the humpback whale, are protected.


Tomilin, A. G. Kitoobraznye. Moscow, 1957. (Zveri SSSR i prilezhashchikh stran, vol. 9.)
Zhizn’zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.