IUCN threat status:

Data Deficient (DD)

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The Pygmy Right Whale according to MammalMAP

Pygmy right whales are not right whales at all.  In fact, they are members of the cetotheres – a family of baleen whales that was believed to be extinct up until the end of 2012.    Information about this particular whale is extremely limited as they are reclusive.  All we know about them is based on a few dozen specimens that have washed up on the shore.

The only feature that this whale has in common with right whales is the shape of its mouth.  Its lower jaw is bowed while its upper jaw is arched – this feature becomes more prominent with age.  There are also two vertical grooves on its throat similar to the throat grooves of a grey whale.  Another distinguishing feature of the pygmy right whale is a small dorsal fin situated far back.  Pygmy right whales are the smallest of the baleen whales.  They are 5 – 6 meters in length and weigh approximately 4500 kgs.

Pygmy right whales live in cool to cold waters surrounding Antarctica.  Like other baleen whales, pygmy right whales feed on krill by filter feeding.  Behaviour and reproductive patterns are a mystery but it is generally accepted that one offspring is born per cycle.

The IUCN Red List classifies pygmy right whales (Caperea marginata) as a Data Deficient species because virtually nothing is known about this elusive species.

For more information on MammalMAP, visit the MammalMAP virtual museum or blog.


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