Different Species of Whales

Different Species of Whales

Have you ever wondered about the different species of whales found in the world’s oceans? There is a surprising number of whales found in the oceans of the world. There are two main groups of whales: toothed whales and baleen whales. The toothed whales have teeth and two blowholes while the baleen whales have baleen plates instead of teeth and only have one blowhole.

The different species of whales found in oceans throughout the world vary in size from smaller than a dolphin to an incredible 30 m in length. The blue whale is the largest species of whale that you find. It is a staggering 30 m in length and weighs as much as 180 tons. The fin whale can grow as large as 27 m in length making this animal almost as large as the huge blue whale. They can swim as fast as 37 km/h and have a slender appearance and form. This species of whale is found in oceans all over the world, but avoids the very far northern reaches of the Arctic Circle. Blue whales and fin whales are both baleen whales.

The Antarctic minke whale is the smallest of what are referred to as the rorqual whales at from 9 to 10 m in length. As the name implies this species is commonly found in the seas around Antarctica, extending as far north as South America, Australia and the southern half of Africa.

Humpback whales are also placed in the family of rorqual whales, but are distinct in having a hump present on the body along with a rather small dorsal fin. This species feeds primarily on krill down in the oceans surrounding the Polar regions. Humpback whales roam the oceans all over the world and are known for their habit of leaping out of the water (called breaching). The rorqual whales are all baleen whales.


Gray whales are found in the waters close to shore, usually not further than 30 km from shore. They hug the coastlines of Russia and western North America, and are thus frequently seen on whale watching trips. These are also baleen whales. The North Atlantic right whale has a massive head making up at least 25% of the total body length of the animal. They occur throughout the North Atlantic Ocean.

Sperm whales and beaked whales are both toothed whales. The dwarf sperm whale is only about 2.7 m in size, and occurs around the world where there are warmer waters. It is found often close to shore off the coasts of Southern Africa and the Gulf of California.

The beaked whales have a “beak-like” structure on the front of their head that resembles the beak of a dolphin. A southern hemisphere species is the Arnoux’s beaked whale which is prevalent in the oceans of Antarctica where it feeds on krill. Unlike Arnoux’s beaked whale, Baird’s beaked whale is found in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in the Bering Sea, North Pacific Ocean and waters surrounding Japan. The beaked whales, like the sperm whales have teeth.

Whale species are really fascinating for their differences and for the fact that there are more species alive today than you would think.


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