The pygmy right whale is found only in a narrow band of waters near the South Pole. The band circles Antarctica, covering area in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Pygmy right whales live in a pelagic aquatic habitat, in the cool to cold ocean waters surrounding Antarctica.
The pygmy right whale is 5-6 meters in length. Distinguishing features include a small dorsal fin situated far back, and two throat grooves. Each of these features is uncharacteristic for all species of right whale, except the pygmy right whale.
Little is known about the reproductive habits of the pygmy right whale. A mother bears one young per birth. If the reproductive habits of pygmy right whales resemble those of other right whales, one can infer that gestation period is probably about 10-12 months.
The offspring stay with their mother until weaning, which may take place at 6 months to one year of age.
Very little is known about the behavior of the pygmy right whale. Because they have not been observed at length at all, their social behavior is very much a mystery. On one occasion, a group of 8 whales was sighted; it may be that these animals were group/family living. Other right whales live in small family groups, and it is very possible that this is also true for the pygmy right whale.
The pygmy right whale, like most smaller baleen whales, feeds on krill. Its huge mouth takes in massive quantities of water and then filters the krill out through baleen plates, spitting the krill-free water out.
The pygmy right whale is so rare and unstudied, we don't even know how rare it is. There is no accurate count of pygmy right whales.
The pygmy right whale is the smallest known baleen whale.
Sarah Cover (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
the body of water between Africa, Europe, the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), and the western hemisphere. It is the second largest ocean in the world after the Pacific Ocean.
body of water between the southern ocean (above 60 degrees south latitude), Australia, Asia, and the western hemisphere. This is the world's largest ocean, covering about 28% of the world's surface.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
"US Fish and Wildlife Service" (On-line). Accessed December 13, 1999 at http://www.fws.gov.
"World Wildlife Fund" (On-line). Accessed December 13, 1999 at http://www.worldwildlife.org.
Parker, ed., S. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Volume 4. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.