Photo taken by Sophie Webb from NOAA
Bryde’s Whale Introduction
One of the types of Baleen Whales is the Bryde’s Whale. They are very often confused with the Sei Whale due to them being similar in size and overall physical appearance. Their name is after Johan Bryde who set up the first whaling station in South Africa in 1908. It is debated about if there are three subspecies or not. The debate stems from genetic differences which are quite complex according to the various forms of scientific literature that is offered on the subject.
Bryde’s Whale Description
This whale species is medium in size. They are a dark gray color and the belly is a cream color. They can range in size from 40 feet to 55 feet. They can weigh as much as 90,000 pounds. The males tend to be a bit smaller than the females when fully grown. The body design is very sleek and they do closely resemble the Sei Whale. The way to distinguish them is that the Bryde’s Whale features three ridges in front of the blowholes, they feature two of them.
They have two rows of baleen plates. The head is very large as are the eyes. The dorsal fins is located far down the back. They have flippers that are small and thin.
Bryde’s Whale Distribution
This particular species of whale prefers to reside in the temperate and tropical waters. The typical water temperature for the Bryde’s Whale is 61 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. They are found in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Ocean. They tend to stay closer to the coast too which is why they are so often seen by humans. Some of the populations do migrate annually but others will remain in the same place all year long.
Bryde’s Whale Behavior
They have been seen blowing water out of their blowhole up to 13 feet in the air. They seem to demonstrate behaviors that are far more erratic than those of other Baleen Whales. They don’t seem to all come up for air at the same time of intervals and that is very puzzling. They also have been observed frequently changing directions, and biologists aren’t sure why they do so.
This species of whale tends to pair up or they can be found in larger groups with up to 20 members. When there are large groups, it is generally a very loose association and they are all in the same place for food resources. They can be very vocal when it comes to communicating with each other. Their vocal sounds often sound like moaning.
Bryde’s Whale Feeding
They take all opportunities to feed, and their manner of doing so is quite interesting. The Bryde’s Whale will lunge at their food source with the mouth wide open. The main sources of food include krill, crustaceans, and fish. Several feeding methods have been observed including bubble nets and also skimming the surface. They will use these three types of feeding to enhance the results of their efforts.
They will take in large amounts of water with the food as the jaw is expandable. When the jaw is closed, the water is removed but any food sources are trapped. There is a rough tongue that makes swallowing the prey possible. Their dives for food can last from 5 to 15 minutes before they surface for air. They can dive up to 1,000 feet.
Bryde’s Whale Reproduction
Mating is going to start when the whales are about 39 feet long. This is typically when they are from 8 to 13 years of age. The females will breed every other year once they are mature. While autumn seems to be the peak time of year when mating occurs, they can mate any time of the year. In the tropical waters, they are more likely to breed throughout the year. In the sub-tropical regions, they are more likely to breed in the winter.
It takes approximately 1 full year for the young to be born after successful conception. The calf can weigh up to one ton and be up to 11 feet long! They will drink milk that the mother’s body produces for about the first year of life. The estimated lifespan for the Bryde’s Whale is 50 years in the wild.
Bryde’s Whale Conservation Status and Threats
It is estimated that the population of Bryde’s Whales at this time is between 90,000 and 100,000.Some populations were seriously depleted as a result of whaling practices. Bryde’s whales are not on the Endangered species list. As a result of the 1986 Moratorium on Whaling, they are protected worldwide. In Japan, whaling is limited to 50 per year legally, but there continues to be concerns about this number being more than that. Issues concerning accidents with boats and pollution continue to be conservation concerns for this species of whale.