Baleen Whales | Mysticeti

Baleen whales are also called whalebones whales or Mysticeti or toothless whales. They are part of the Cetacea infraorder and possess an extraordinary modification of the mouth (also called baleen) used for filtering food from the water. They are the largest and heaviest carnivorous marine vertebrates that exist today and particularly live in chilly waters of the north and south poles. Baleen whales have small eyes situated close to the end of their mouth for seeing and sensing. Unlike toothed whales that have one blowhole, baleen whales have two blowholes and are regularly hunted for their blubber and oil.

How many blowholes does a Baleen Whale have?

The Baleen Whale has 2 blowholes that serve as its nostrils and are situated at the top of its head. The blows of the Baleen Whale are considered to be bushier than those created by toothed whales who typically only have a single blowhole. Baleen Whales can also expand their throat to gulp large amounts of seawater.

What does a Baleen Whale eat?

The Baleen Whale typically eats krill, fish, zooplankton, phytoplankton, and algae. The Baleen Whale feeds by filtering or straining food from the water they consume. The Baleen Whale has baleen plates which they use to push water out while trapping their food inside for them to swallow.

How did Baleen Whales evolve?

It is believed that Baleen Whales evolved from a common ancestor who lived more than 23 to 25 million years ago. Unfortunately, the common ancestor has not been discovered, but probably lived within the Oligocene period. It is also believed that the earliest ancestor of the toothed whale lived during this time.

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Baleen Whales Guides
Browse through our curated Baleen Whales Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Baleen Whales. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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13’-16’ | 3.96-4.88 m
25.3’-31.8’ | 7.7-9.7 m
82’-105’ | 25-32 m
55-165 tons | 50-150 metric tons
80-90 years
Blue Whale
488.000
970.000
3200.000
150000.000
90.00
182000
3D
Blue Whale
8.9’-12.1’ | 2.7-3.7 m
14.1’-19.4’ | 4.3-5.9 m
45’-60’ | 13.7-18.3 m
75-100 tons | 68-91 metric tons
150-200 years
Bowhead Whale
370.000
590.000
1830.000
90718.000
200.00
66900
3D
Bowhead Whale
6.6’-7.9’ | 2-2.4 m
10.5’-13.1’ | 3.2-4 m
45’-55’ | 13.7-16.8 m
17-25 tons | 15-23 metric tons
50-70 years
Bryde’s Whale
240.000
400.000
1680.000
22679.000
70.00
1100
3D
Bryde’s Whale
4.3’-5.9’ | 1.3-1.8 m
6.6’-9.2’ | 2-2.8 m
26’-35’ | 7.9-10.7 m
6-10 tons | 5-9 metric tons
40-50 years
Common Minke Whale
180.000
280.000
1070.000
9072.000
50.00
2900
3D
Common Minke Whale
9.5’-11.5’ | 2.9-3.5 m
15.4’-18.4’ | 4.7-5.6 m
75’-90’ | 22.9-27.4 m
74-114 tons | 67-103 metric tons
80-100 years
Fin Whale
350.000
560.000
2740.000
103419.000
100.00
35800
3D
Fin Whale
6.9’-8.5’ | 2.1-2.6 m
10.2’-11.5’ | 3.1-3.5 m
40’-50’ | 12.2-15.2 m
30-41 tons | 27-37 metric tons
55-80 years
Gray Whale
260.000
350.000
1520.000
37195.000
80.00
22300
3D
Gray Whale
8’-9’8” | 2.44-2.97 m
12.1’-14.8’ | 3.7-4.5 m
43’-52’ | 13-16 m
27.5-33 tons | 25-30 metric tons
45-100 years
Humpback Whale
297.000
450.000
1600.000
30000.000
100.00
63200
3D
Humpback Whale
9.2’-11.1’ | 2.8-3.4 m
14.8’-18’ | 4.5-5.5 m
43’-52’ | 13.1-15.8 m
44-75 tons | 40-68 metric tons
50-70 years
North Atlantic Right Whale
340.000
550.000
1580.000
68039.000
70.00
11000
3D
North Atlantic Right Whale
11.5’-15.1’ | 3.5-4.6 m
17.1’-23’ | 5.2-7 m
49’-65’ | 14.9-19.8 m
80-100 tons | 73-91 metric tons
50-70 years
North Pacific Right Whale
460.000
700.000
1980.000
90718.000
70.00
3500
3D
North Pacific Right Whale
2.7’-3.6’ | .83-1.09 m
4.3’-5.6’ | 1.3-1.7 m
16’-21’ | 4.9-6.4 m
3-4 tons | 2.7-3.6 metric tons
20-40 years
Pygmy Right Whale
109.000
170.000
640.000
3629.000
40.00
1300
3D
Pygmy Right Whale
5.9’-8.9’ | 1.8-2.7 m
11.2’-16.1’ | 3.4-4.9 m
45’-65’ | 13.7-19.8 m
18-30 tons | 16-27 metric tons
50-75 years
Sei Whale
270.000
490.000
1980.000
27215.000
75.00
14700
3D
Sei Whale
10.5’-12.8’ | 3.2-3.9 m
17.4’-21.7’ | 5.3-6.6 m
50’-60’ | 15.2-18.3 m
47-90 tons | 43-82 metric tons
60-80 years
Southern Right Whale
390.000
660.000
1830.000
81647.000
80.00
10150
3D
Southern Right Whale
Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Scale illustration of an average Common Minke Whale with dimensions length compared to a human and sea cows

The Common Minke whale also referred to as the Northern Minke whale belongs to the family Balaenopteridae. They are usually smaller compared to other baleen whales and are notoriously inquisitive. These whales’ backs are covered in a black, brown, or inky grey hue with bellies and under their flippers being lighter than the rest of their bodies. Common Minke whales inhabit mostly the areas of North Atlantic oceans and occasionally drift to the southern hemisphere during winter. Like other baleen whales, they are often traveling in solitary or small groups and have a lifespan of about 40 to 50 years old. They also spot a dorsal fin and nick along their edges.

Common Minke Whales have a total length between 26’-35’ (7.9-10.7 m), body height of 4.3’-5.9’ (1.3-1.8 m), and width of 6.6’-9.2’ (2-2.8 m). The typical weight of the Common Minke Whale is in the range of 6-10 tons (5-9 metric tons). Common Minke Whale have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Common Minke Whale seen from the side and front
The Common Minke whale also referred to as the Northern Minke whale belongs to the family Balaenopteridae. They are usually smaller compared to other baleen whales and are notoriously inquisitive. These whales’ backs are covered in a black, brown, or inky grey hue with bellies being lighter.

Common Minke Whales have a total length between 26’-35’ (7.9-10.7 m), body height of 4.3’-5.9’ (1.3-1.8 m), and width of 6.6’-9.2’ (2-2.8 m). The typical weight of the Common Minke Whale is in the range of 6-10 tons (5-9 metric tons). Common Minke Whale have lifespans between 40-50 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Common Minke Whale seen from the side and front
Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Height:
4.3’-5.9’ | 1.3-1.8 m
Width:
6.6’-9.2’ | 2-2.8 m
Length:
26’-35’ | 7.9-10.7 m
Depth:
Weight:
6-10 tons | 5-9 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Balaenoptera acutorostrata
Lifespan
40-50 years

Drawings include:

Common Minke Whale side elevation, front, top

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North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a North Pacific Right Whale to a typical person and sea cows

The North Pacific right whales are among the rarest, endangered whale species in the family Balaenidae. These animals live or are frequently sighted in the Bering Sea, North Pacific, and western North Pacific. They are usually larger than the North Atlantic right whales though they share some similarities like lack of dorsal fin, V-shaped spout, plus lips coated in callosities. The North Pacific right whale has the thickest baleen, with females being larger than males. They also have an enormous head with a bumpy appearance. North Pacific right whales are social, playful, inquisitive, and love to breach besides slapping their flippers as they roll.

North Pacific Right Whales have a total length between 49’-65’ (14.9-19.8 m), body height of 11.5’-15.1’ (3.5-4.6 m), and width of 17.1’-23’ (5.2-7 m). The typical weight of the North Pacific Right Whale is in the range of 80-100 tons (73-91 metric tons). North Pacific Right Whale have lifespans between 50-70 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of North Pacific Right Whale in front and side poses
The North Pacific right whales are among the rarest, endangered whale species in the family Balaenidae. These animals live or are frequently sighted in the Bering Sea, North Pacific, and western North Pacific. They are usually larger than the North Atlantic right whales though they are similar.

North Pacific Right Whales have a total length between 49’-65’ (14.9-19.8 m), body height of 11.5’-15.1’ (3.5-4.6 m), and width of 17.1’-23’ (5.2-7 m). The typical weight of the North Pacific Right Whale is in the range of 80-100 tons (73-91 metric tons). North Pacific Right Whale have lifespans between 50-70 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of North Pacific Right Whale in front and side poses
North Pacific Right Whale (Eubalaena japonica)
Height:
11.5’-15.1’ | 3.5-4.6 m
Width:
17.1’-23’ | 5.2-7 m
Length:
49’-65’ | 14.9-19.8 m
Depth:
Weight:
80-100 tons | 73-91 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Eubalaena japonica
Lifespan
50-70 years

Drawings include:

North Pacific Right Whale side elevation, front, top

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North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Scale illustration of an average North Atlantic Right Whale with dimensions length compared to a human and sea cows

The North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered species in the family Balaenidae. They are slow surface-skimmers, docile, and prefer coastal waters. They live in areas of the western north Atlantic ocean beside being also called black right whale or northern whale. These mammals lack a dorsal fin, have pectoral flippers that are short and paddle-like and long arching mouths above the eyes with stocky black bodies and white blotches on their undersides. The North Atlantic right whale makes a distinctive V-shaped blow and can be identified by the shape, position, and size of their callosities, which are unique to each whale.

North Atlantic Right Whales have a total length between 43’-52’ (13.1-15.8 m), body height of 9.2’-11.1’ (2.8-3.4 m), and width of 14.8’-18’ (4.5-5.5 m). The typical weight of the North Atlantic Right Whale is in the range of 44-75 tons (40-68 metric tons). North Atlantic Right Whale have lifespans between 50-70 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the North Atlantic Right Whale seen from the side and front
The North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered species in the family Balaenidae. They are slow surface-skimmers, docile, and prefer coastal waters. They live in areas of the western north Atlantic ocean beside being also called black right whale or northern whale.

North Atlantic Right Whales have a total length between 43’-52’ (13.1-15.8 m), body height of 9.2’-11.1’ (2.8-3.4 m), and width of 14.8’-18’ (4.5-5.5 m). The typical weight of the North Atlantic Right Whale is in the range of 44-75 tons (40-68 metric tons). North Atlantic Right Whale have lifespans between 50-70 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the North Atlantic Right Whale seen from the side and front
North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Height:
9.2’-11.1’ | 2.8-3.4 m
Width:
14.8’-18’ | 4.5-5.5 m
Length:
43’-52’ | 13.1-15.8 m
Depth:
Weight:
44-75 tons | 40-68 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Eubalaena glacialis
Lifespan
50-70 years

Drawings include:

North Atlantic Right Whale side elevation, front, top

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Pygmy Right Whale (Caperea marginata)
Dimensioned comparison drawing of the Pygmy Right Whale compared to other sea cows and a person

Pygmy right whales are no featherweights as their name may suggest but when compared to other filter-feeding whales, they are the smallest spotting flat round heads and ivory-colored baleen. Pygmy right whales are members of the family Cetotheres and native to the Southern Hemisphere or southern oceans. Pygmy right whales, unlike other right whales, have sickle-shaped dorsal fins, bodies that are sleeker and more streamlined and small, narrowly rounded flippers. Additionally, Pygmy right whales are social and prefer gathering in groups and spending less time on the surface. They also spot pale highlighting running along their underside to the tail.

Pygmy Right Whales have a total length between 16’-21’ (4.9-6.4 m), body height of 2.7’-3.6’ (.83-1.09 m), and width of 4.3’-5.6’ (1.3-1.7 m). The typical weight of the Pygmy Right Whale is in the range of 3-4 tons (2.7-3.6 metric tons). Pygmy Right Whale have lifespans between 20-40 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Pygmy Right Whale viewed from the front and side
Pygmy right whales are no featherweights as their name may suggest but when compared to other filter-feeding whales, they are the smallest spotting flat round heads and ivory-colored baleen. Pygmy right whales are members of the family Cetotheres and native to the Southern Hemisphere.

Pygmy Right Whales have a total length between 16’-21’ (4.9-6.4 m), body height of 2.7’-3.6’ (.83-1.09 m), and width of 4.3’-5.6’ (1.3-1.7 m). The typical weight of the Pygmy Right Whale is in the range of 3-4 tons (2.7-3.6 metric tons). Pygmy Right Whale have lifespans between 20-40 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Pygmy Right Whale viewed from the front and side
Pygmy Right Whale (Caperea marginata)
Height:
2.7’-3.6’ | .83-1.09 m
Width:
4.3’-5.6’ | 1.3-1.7 m
Length:
16’-21’ | 4.9-6.4 m
Depth:
Weight:
3-4 tons | 2.7-3.6 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Caperea marginata
Lifespan
20-40 years

Drawings include:

Pygmy Right Whale side elevation, front, top

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Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis)
Measured comparison illustration of the size of a Southern Right Whale to a typical person and sea cows

The Southern right whale loves to raise its tail off the water before it starts a dive. These right whales belong to the family Balaenidae and are mostly found in the oceans of the southern hemisphere. The Southern right whales are social, living in groups or pairs and love to slap their flippers on the water surface. They likewise love to breach and frequently spy hop. They prefer deep open oceans and often migrate annually. The Southern right whales are enormous, slow swimmers hence were an easy victim for whaling. They are identified by a black body with patches of white coating underneath and on their chin, broad backs, lack of dorsal fins, and have visible callosities around their mouth and over their head.

Southern Right Whales have a total length between 50’-60’ (15.2-18.3 m), body height of 10.5’-12.8’ (3.2-3.9 m), and width of 17.4’-21.7’ (5.3-6.6 m). The typical weight of the Southern Right Whale is in the range of 47-90 tons (43-82 metric tons). Southern Right Whale have lifespans between 60-80 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Southern Right Whale in front and side poses
The Southern right whale loves to raise its tail off the water before it starts a dive. These right whales belong to the family Balaenidae and are mostly found in the oceans of the southern hemisphere. The Southern right whales are social, living in groups or pairs and love to slap their flippers.

Southern Right Whales have a total length between 50’-60’ (15.2-18.3 m), body height of 10.5’-12.8’ (3.2-3.9 m), and width of 17.4’-21.7’ (5.3-6.6 m). The typical weight of the Southern Right Whale is in the range of 47-90 tons (43-82 metric tons). Southern Right Whale have lifespans between 60-80 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Southern Right Whale in front and side poses
Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis)
Height:
10.5’-12.8’ | 3.2-3.9 m
Width:
17.4’-21.7’ | 5.3-6.6 m
Length:
50’-60’ | 15.2-18.3 m
Depth:
Weight:
47-90 tons | 43-82 metric tons
Area:
Scientific Name
Eubalaena australis
Lifespan
60-80 years

Drawings include:

Southern Right Whale side elevation, front, top

Details & Downloads

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