right whale

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Related to right whale: Pygmy Right Whale, blue whale

right whale,

name for whaleswhale,
aquatic mammal of the order Cetacea, found in all oceans of the world. Members of this order vary greatly in size and include the largest animals that have ever lived. Cetaceans never leave the water, even to give birth.
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 of the family Balaenidae. They were so named by whalers, who for centuries considered them "the right whales" to hunt, because they float when killed and because they yield enormous quantities of oil and of baleen. Baleen, or whalebone, is the substance forming the fringed, triangular plates that hang from the roof of the whale's mouth and serve as a filter for plankton. It commanded such a high price in the 19th cent. that baleen whales (right whales and rorquals) were nearly exterminated by hunting. Right whales are distinguished from rorquals by the lack both of a dorsal fin and of neck furrows. Their girth is great in proportion to their length, and they have two thick pectoral fins. The lower jaws are scooplike in shape; the upper jaws contain about 300 baleen plates.

Right whales, also known as black right whales (genus Eubalaena), are usually black all over; some individuals have white undersides. Females, larger than males, average 45 to 60 ft (14–18 m) in length. There is an irregularly shaped, horny growth, called the bonnet, above the snout. It has no known function, other than possible intraspecific aggression, and accumulates an immense conglomeration of parasites. There are three species of right whales, inhabiting the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans and the Southern Hemisphere, respectively. The northern species, both of which are endangered, travel to the equator in winter, breeding on their way back to the poles. The bowhead whale, also known as the Greenland or Arctic right whale (Balaena mysticetus), remains near the ice front all year, following its seasonal advances and recessions. It is black with a white chin and often a white tail band; there is a bump on top of the head. Its baleen plates grow up to 13 ft (4 m) long, and it produces large quantities of oil. The 20-foot-long (6-m) pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata), found in the waters of the S Southern Hemisphere, is classified by some authorities in the family Neobalaenidae, and by others in Cetotheriidae. Right whales are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Cetacea.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Right Whale


(Eubalaena glacialis), a mammal of the family Balaenidae. The right whale may reach a length of 20 m and a weight of 100 tons. The edge of the lower jaw has scalloped protuberances. On the upper jaw there is a horny growth with “bonnets” formed from masses of cirripeds. The plates of the baleen, which are dark in color, may measure 2.6 m in length and number as many as 260 on each half of the upper jaw. The body is black, sometimes with white markings.

The right whale embraces three subspecies: the Biscayan (in northern temperate waters of the Atlantic), Japanese (in northern temperate waters of the Pacific), and Australian (in temperate waters of the southern hemisphere). The right whale feeds on small crustaceans. The young are born in winter and measure 4.5–6 m in length. Hunting of the right whale is prohibited.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

right whale

any large whalebone whale of the family Balaenidae. They are grey or black, have a large head, and, in most, no dorsal fin, and are hunted as a source of whalebone and oil
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests right whales remain on the brink of extinction in the area.
Burnell's nine years of field observations mean that he has now been able to witness many southern right whale courtships and matings.
Coast Guard have issued collective reminders to boaters and coastal residents that North Atlantic right whale birthing season begins in mid-November and runs until mid-April and that boaters keep their vessels at a minimum 1,500 feet distance from the whales.
As part of previous research in 2012, Record and Pendleton used data about Calanus and oceanographic conditions to develop an algorithm to identify right whale habitats.
"Knowing their numbers are so low, it's always exciting when we are able to document a North Atlantic right whale," says Kate Lomac-MacNair, project manager and co-lead observer at Smultea Environmental Sciences, a subcontractor for DEC's large whale aerial survey.
While the present population is considerably larger than the 50 presumed alive in 1920, in 2017 the population experienced an unusual mortality event, and so far in 2018 not a single right whale calf has been observed.
Roosevelt, I meet Moira Brown, a leading researcher on the North Atlantic right whale - the world's most endangered whale, with a population of just 525.
After centuries of whaling, the right whale currently occurs as a very threatened population off eastern North America and the grey whale has completely disappeared from the North Atlantic and is now restricted to the North Pacific.
Caption: Researchers didn't spot a single right whale calf during this year's birthing season, adding to alarm about the species' long-term chances of survival.
One right whale was found dead off the coast of Virginia in January.

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