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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cetacea
Suborder: Mysticeti
Family: Balaenidae
Gray, 1821

Aglaocetus? (extinct)
Balaenella (extinct)
Balaenula (extinct)
Balaenotus (extinct)
Mesoteras (extinct)
Morenocetus (extinct)
Protobalaena (extinct)

Range of the Balaenidae species

Balaenidae (pronounced /bəˈliːnɨdiː/) is a family of mysticete whales that contains two living genera. Commonly called the right whales as it contains mainly right whale species. This name can be confusing, however, since one of the species is the Bowhead Whale, which is different from the right whales.


Balaenids are large whales, with an average adult length of 15 to 17 metres (45-50 feet), and weighing 50-80 tonnes. Their principle distinguishing feature is their narrow, arched, upper jaw, which gives the animals a deeply curved jawline. This shape allows for especially long baleen plates. The animals utilise these by floating at or near the surface, and straining food from the water, which they then scrape off the baleen with their tongues - a feeding method that contrasts with those of the rorquals and the Gray Whale. Their diet consists of small crustaceans, primarily copepods, although some species also eat a significant amount of krill.[2]

Balaenids are also robustly built by comparison with the rorquals, and lack the grooves along the throat that are distinctive of those animals. They have exceptionally large heads in comparison with their bodies, reaching 40% of the total length in the case of the Bowhead Whale. They have short, broad, flippers, and lack a dorsal fin.

All species are at least somewhat migratory, moving into warmer waters during the winter, during which they both mate and give birth. Gestation lasts 10–11 months, results in the birth of a single young, and typically occurs once every three years.[2]


  • Family Balaenidae


  1. ^ Mead, James G. and Robert L. Brownell, Jr (November 16, 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 723–743. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.  
  2. ^ a b Gaskin, David E. (1984). Macdonald, D.. ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 230–235. ISBN 0-87196-871-1.  



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Cetartiodactyla
Ordo: Cetacea
Subordo: Mysticeti
Familia: Balaenidae
Genera: Balaena - Eubalaena


Balaenidae Gray, 1821


  • Balaenidae on Mammal species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).
  • Lond. Med. Repos. 15: 310.
  • Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 3rd edition, 2005 ISBN 0801882214

Vernacular names

Dansk: Rethvaler
Deutsch: Glattwale
English: Right Whales
Español: Ballenas francas
Esperanto: Vera Baleno
Français: Eubalaena
Hrvatski: Glatki kitovi
Italiano: Balena franca
עברית: בנליים
Lietuvių: Glotnieji banginiai
Magyar: Simabálnák
Nederlands: Echte walvissen
Polski: Wale gładkoskóre
Português: Baleia franca
Svenska: Rätvalar
Türkçe: Gerçek balinagiller
中文: 露脊鯨


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