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Pygmy Right Whale (Caperea marginata)

All text on this page is copyright protected: © 2014 Kelvin Aitken.
All rights reserved. Students may use this information for personal research only. Not for commercial use.

Order: Cetacea
Family: Neobalaenidae
Genus: Caperea
Species: marginata
Taxonomic name: Caperea marginata

Pygmy Right Whales belong to the Neobalaenidae family, separate to the true Right Whales.

These are the smallest of all baleen whales growing to 6.5 meters with females, as with all the Balaenidae family, being larger than males. No newborn calves or foetuses have been recorded so birth length is unknown.

Pygmy Right Whales are only found in the southern hemisphere in all temperate oceans with water temperatures up to 20 degrees Celsius. Their low profile, insignificant blow, short surface period, low population numbers and secretive nature make them a very difficult animal to observe. They inhabit both open ocean and shallow bays being more populous in waters off Tasmania, Australia. Their sleek body shape and small dorsal fin may make observers mistake them for Minke Whales.

The Pygmy Right Whale (Caperea marginata) has attributes of both Right Whales and Rorquals with a dorsal fin, narrow pectoral fins and rudimentary throat grooves but with the curved mouth of right whales. They are dark grey with a white or pale belly colouration which extends along the throat to the tip of the lower jaw. Like the similar shaped (at least superficially) Minke Whale the Pygmy Right Whale at times pushes its chin above the surface showing a flash of the white chin. When swimming it uses its entire body to undulate through the water.


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