How many whale species can you name?

There are 90 cetacean species, that's whales, dolphin and porpoises.

Baleen or Toothed whales

Did you know that all whales are dolphins but not all dolphins are whales? Today we are just going to focus on baleen whales and toothed whales. 

Baleen Whales

  • Blue Whale - Endangered - The largest creature on the planet and they prefer the deeper stretches of the ocean, rarely seen in the shallows. They will travel in their pods from the cold waters that they feed in to the warmer waters which they breed in. 

  • Bryde’s Whale - Least Concern - Preferring to stay in the warmer waters of the world, favouring temperatures of 16°c and above. 

  • Common Minke Whale - Least Concern - These whales live to an average of 40 years and can be found in oceans around the world the northern sub-Arctic waters to the southern sub-Antarctic waters.

  • Antarctic Minke Whale - Near Threatened - As you can imagine the Antarctic Minke Whale lives in the ice waters around Antarctica. Some like to go North to warmer waters in the winter while others remain all year round.

  • Fin Whale - Vulnerable - Fin whales can live to 90 years old! They are a true global species being found in almost every single ocean in the world with the exception of parts of the Arctic ocean that are covered in sea ice throughout the year.

  • Omura’s Whale - Data Deficient - As we are still learning about this species we still do not know the full extent of their range, but they have been seen in all ocean basins with the exception of the central and eastern Pacific. Plus they can be seen off the coast of Madagascar all year round and do not migrate.

  • Sei Whale - Endangered - Sei whales live to up to 65 years old and occupy all the open oceans between the polar regions, though they tend to avoid the truly cold polar waters, preferring slightly more temperate waters.. These are one of the fastest cetaceans reaching speeds of up to 50 mphs!

  • Humpback Whale - Least Concern - The humpback whale will live on average 40 - 50 years and they can be seen along the coasts throughout all the ocean. Sometimes they will even swim into harbours or rivers.

  • Pygmy Right WhaleLeast Concern - Pygmy right whales love waters in the southern hemisphere that are between 5º and 20º but their exact habitat is unknown. 

  • Grey WhaleLeast Concern - These whales are incredible long distance travellers, migrating thousands of kilometres annually. They can live to an impressive 70 years old. 

  • Bowhead Whale - Least Concern - It was originally thought that Bowhead whales lived to around 65 years old, however recent research suggests they could live much longer, possibly 200 years! They can be found in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters.

  • North Atlantic Right Whale - Endangered - North Atlantic Right Whales used to be found throughout the North Atlantic ocean however excessive whaling over the years has drastically reduced their numbers. If they aren't hunted or hit by ships then they have a life expectancy of over 70 years!

  • North Pacific Right Whale - Endangered - Like their North Atlantic counterparts, the North Pacific Right Whales used to be found throughout the North Pacific but they have met the same fate and now their numbers are reduced to just two small segments, the Eastern and the Western.

  • Southern Right Whale - Least Concern - They are migratory whales that live throughout the Southern hemisphere, going from the warmer waters that they breed in to colder waters to feast in. 

Whale Dive

Toothed Whales

  • Long Finned Pilot - Least Concern - Life expectancy for males is around 45 years whilst for females its 60! They live throughout the cold and temperate oceans across the world, preferring deeper, offshore environments. 

  • Short Finned Pilot - Least Concern - Preferring warmer waters to those of the long finned pilot whales they also favour the deeper waters where they can hunt for squid.

  • Dwarf Sperm Whale - Data Deficient - It is thought that the edges of continental shelves are the favoured spots for dwarf sperm whales. These whales like to live a steady life, travelling in pods of typically 10 or less. 

  • Pygmy Sperm Whale - Data Deficient - These whales can be found throughout all of the temperate subtropical and tropical seas. Like some other whale species, very little is known about the pygmy sperm whales, they are pretty shy around humans and don't surface for long.

  • Beluga Whale - Least Concern - The white whale in the north, lives largely in cold Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. The most vocal of all whale and dolphin species and can live up to 60 years of age in the wild.

  • Narwhal - Least Concern - Narwhals will typically live to around 50 years old and unlike other whale species the narwhal doesn't migrate, they instead will spend their lives in the cold Arctic waters of Canada, Greenland, Russia and Norway.

  • Sperm Whale - Vulnerable - Preferring the deeper waters of the worlds oceans, sperm whales can be found throughout all the oceans. They will live to between 60 and 70 years of age and enjoy eating giant squid!

    If you want to learn more about the endangered and vulnerable whale species, then we did a whole blog on them on Wildlife Conservation Day 2019 that you can read here.


    15 Interesting Whale Facts:

    We have scoured the internet for some of the more interesting and fascinating facts and pieces of information on some of the different species of whales.

    1. The sounds that Minke Whales make can reach 152 decibels, which is as loud as a jet plane!

    2. The Sei whales get their name from Norway, where the word 'sei' means pollock, which is a type of fish. This is because the Norwegians noticed that the pollock and whales arrived at the same time, in the same place each year.

    3. North pacific right whales get their names from the hunters who targeted them as easy prey, the whalers saw them as the 'right' whales to kill.

    4. Little is known about Omura’s whales, they are a smaller species of whale often mistaken for Bryde’s whales. We do know that they typically travel alone or in pairs and enjoy feasting on krill and schooling fish which they filter from seawater and unlike other filter feeders Omura’s whales don't seem to migrate out of their tropical waters. 

    5. Pygmy sperm whales have a sneaky method to throw off potential predators, they release a reddish-brown cloud of intestinal fluid into the water around them and then proceed to dive into depths and make their escape.

    Whale 2

    1. The world's first whale watching trip took place in 1950 when the migration of the grey whale attracted crowds to watch and it is still poplar today!

    2. Sperm whales have up to 52 cone-shaped teeth, each tooth weighs about half a kilo!

    3. The only species known to attack fin whales are orcas and even then they only go after the young fin whales that haven't fully matured. 

    4. Each humpback whale has a unique set of markings on their underbelly, these white designs are as unique as a set of human fingerprints and are used by scientists to recognise individual whales that they are studying and tracking.

    5. Other than their long protruding tooth (also known as their horn), the narwhal doesn't have any other teeth but this isn't a problem as they are suction feeders meaning that they swallow their prey whole!

    Whale 3

    1. The long finned pilot whale has an incredible bond, they do everything together; hunting, resting, playing, socialising and travelling as one unified pod. They will stay in their pods for their whole lives, from birth until the end and these pods can range from 10 - 20 individuals all the way up to 100!

    2. Some grey whales have been known to swim 12,430 miles round-trip from their Alaskan waters in the summer to the warmer waters off the Mexican coast. 

    3. Because of how little time they spend at the surface, not much is known about Pygmy Right Whales. Most of the research that has been done on them has been done on stranded individuals.

    4. The Bryde's whale's name is pronounced 'Broo-dess'. Their name comes from a Norwegian named Johan Bryde, who built the first whaling stations in South Africa during the early 20th century.

    5. Originally pilot whales where thought to have been lead, or piloted, by one leader. We know now that this is not the case, but this is where they get their name from. They are actually large dolphins, rather than whales, and the second largest of the dolphins, just smaller than orcas.

    Whale 4

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