Bryde's Whale  |  

Balaenoptera edeni

Bryde’s Whales are the second smallest of the balaenopterids (baleen whales). Bryde’s Whales closely resemble Sei Whales, but have a number of distinctive characteristics. The body colour of Bryde’s Whales is principally dark smoky grey above and white below, with the dark area extending down to include the throat grooves and flippers. The boundary between the dark and light pigmentation is diffuse. As in other balaenopterids, the rostrum is V-shaped but has three parallel ridges running longitudinally between the blowhole and rostral tip. The three lateral ridges are the most characteristic feature of Bryde’s Whales. The head is about a quarter of the body length. The dorsal fin is extremely falcate (sickle-shaped) with a tapering tip and is located at about three-quarters of the way along the body. The flukes are broad with rather straight posterior margins. The throat grooves extend to beyond the navel, in contrast to the Sei Whale where they do not reach the navel. The controversy surrounding in the taxonomic status of Bryde’s Whales have led to difficulty in determining the characteristics of the smaller coastal form (considered here as representing Bryde’s Whale). Like other balaenopterids, female Bryde’s Whales are larger than males throughout life, the difference reaching about 0.5–0.6 m at full maturity. The “small form” Bryde’s Whale (B. edeni) reaches physical maturity at nine m and rarely grows longer than about 11.5 m. In contrast, the “ordinary” Bryde’s Whale (B. brydei) does not even reach sexual maturity until 11.2 m (males) or 11.7 m (females) and can grow to 14.6 m (males) or 15.6 m (females). The average weight for the inshore form of Bryde’s Whale off South Africa was estimated as 10.77 tonnes. Bryde’s Whales are not gregarious and mostly swim alone or in pairs. The largest reported group sizes of 10 to 23 individuals are usually loose aggregations covering a few square kilometers in area. The association of individuals may therefore be coincidental and connected to a common activity, such as feeding.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Species Profile and Threats Database, Balaenoptera edeni

    Increasing ocean temperatures predicted by climate change scenarios could potentially increase the extent of occurrence; with warmer water extending southwards along both coasts.