Southern Right Whale and Calf in the Head of Bight Whale Sanctuary

Quick Facts

Length: 14 - 18 metres
Height: -
Weight: up to 80 Tonnes
Colour: Dark grey to black skin with occasional white patches on their belly
Habitat: Southern Hemisphere Oceans
Food: Plankton, Krill & Crustaceans
Predators: Killer whale
Status: Protected in the jurisdictional waters
Southern Right Whale Barnacles
Southern Right Whale Tail Slapping - Victor Harbour

It has very dark grey or black skin, with occasional white patches on the belly. Its two separate blow holes produce a distinguishing V-shaped blow.

Southern right’s have an enormous head which is up to one quarter of total body length. The callosities on the head are made of hard material, similar to human finger-nails, which appear white due to large colonies of whale lice called cyamids. The number, shape and position of the callosities are unique to each individual whale, and allow us to tell them apart. Southern right whales tend to have a large callosity at the front of the head, called a “bonnet”.

Southern Right Whales live in the worlds southern oceans. When the weather becomes colder, they move north to the warmer waters. This is generally from May to September. The winter months are spent giving birth and nursing their young before returning to the south in the spring to feed.

The Southern Right Whale feeds on plankton, krill and other tiny crustaceans.

Whalers named these whales the 'right' whales as they were slow-moving and could often be found near shores. This meant they were easily caught and killed.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Sunday 16th February, 2014
Wild About Whales -


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