North Atlantic Right Whale – Eubalaena glacialis
The North Atlantic Right Whale, also known as the ice whale or Biscay whale, belongs to the family of Balaenidae and is therefore part of the order of whales. Eubalaena glacialis was first described by Müller in 1776.
Description, Anatomy & Characteristics
The North Atlantic Right Whale has a grayish colouring. From a greater distance it appears to have large white spots. If you get closer, however, these spots turn out to be parasites. They include barnacles, whale lice and other crustaceans that live on its skin.
Eubalaena glacialis is on average between 13 and 16m long. However, the scientifically confirmed maximum size is 18m. It weighs about 100t.
As with all other right whales also, the North Atlantic Right Whale lacks the dorsal fin.
Since it belongs to the parvorder of the Baleen whales, no teeth, but baleens are in the mouth. Per side, it approximately 300 of it.
Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence
Eubalaena glacialis lives in temperate latitudes in winter and subpolar zones in summer. Thus, seasonal migrations take place.
Due to the intensive whaling of past times, it is as good as extinct in the eastern Atlantic. They were easy prey because they prefer to stay near the coast. Every now and then it comes to sightings of individual animals. However, this is extremely rare and it is assumed that they are lost animals of the West Atlantic population.
Its distribution area in the western Atlantic ranges from the Gulf of Mexico to New England.
In the eastern Atlantic it stretched from the European North Sea to the Bay of Biscay and further south to the Western Sahara, where the mothers gave birth to their calves.
Accordingly, it is very rare to see the North Atlantic Right Whale around the Canary Islands.
Feeding & Biology
Eubalaena glacialis feeds mainly on small crustaceans and fish. It sifts these with its baleens from the sea water.
Female animals become mothers for the first time at the age of 9 to 10. The gestation period is about one year. The time between two births is about 6 years long. Calves are 4.5m long at birth and weigh over a ton.
They normally swim very slowly, at about 8km/h.
They used to gather in groups for their migrations, but 100 animals were not uncommon. Due to its endangering, this is unfortunately no longer possible today.