Southern right whales have beautiful features. Watching them is quite fascinating. They have entertaining moves. They are slow swimmers and love diving. Tourists fall in love with their moves. You can watch them while on an African safari. In this post, we give you 5 fascinating facts about southern right whales.
About Southern Right Whale
They are among the most stunning wild animals in the world. They have black and stocky body. Mostly, they have a white belly. They have large head and chin patches. Southern right whales have paddle-shaped flippers. They don’t have a dorsal fin. They enjoy a longer lifespan. They can live up to 70 years.
Southern right whale size
They are among the largest species of whales. An average male can be as long as 15 meters. An average female can be up to 16 meters long. They can be as heavy as 176,000 pounds.
Southern Right Whale Population
They lived in large numbers in the 1700s. Their population has reduced drastically. Today, they are less than 10,000 southern right whales. Luckily, there are signs of population growth.
Southern Right Whale Habitat
You will find them in the southern hemisphere. They move between high-latitude and low-latitude areas. You can see them in Australia, South America, New Zealand, and South Africa.
What do southern right whales eat?
They eat invertebrate animals such as krill, plankton, and copepods. They don’t have teeth. Instead, they filter food using baleen plates. They swim with their mouth open while hunting. They trap prey in the baleen bristles.
- They are polyandrous
This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about southern right whales. One female can have up to 7 mating partners. Courtship and copulation are usually loving and beautiful. Courtship can occur in one to two hours. Male southern right whales do not fight over partners. They are unique. They allow mating whales to do so in peace. They do not show jealousy when it comes to mating. Well, this is not usual among mammals.
Mating occurs between June and November. The gestation period is about 12 months. A pregnant mother can go without food over winter for 4 months. Usually, she will give birth to one calf. Babies are large. They can weigh up to 1,500 kg. Calves can be as long as 20 feet. Females protect babies from orcas and white sharks. A calf weans after a year. They are sexually mature at around 9 years. Females give birth every 3 to 5 years.
- They live in groups
Southern right whales live in groups. You can find them in groups of 2 to 3. But a group can have up to 12 members.
- They are very acrobatic
This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about southern right whales. These beautiful wild animals are slow swimmers. But they are good acrobats. They are good at doing headstands. They tip upside down and wave their flukes and flippers. Then, they slap them on the water’s surface. They can do this up to 10 times nonstop. You will see them turning in midair. Then, they fall to the side or back into the water. While mating, they love breaching. They also use this tactic to remove parasites from the body.
- They have unique calluses
Southern right whales have unique calluses. These are elevated skin areas on different head parts. These areas function like fingerprints. They are used to identify each animal in their lives. It is one of the 5 fascinating facts about southern right whales.
- They have unique markings on the head
These markings are usually white. This is because of large colonies of barnacles and lice that live on them.
Threats to Southern Right Whale Survival
In the 1960s, hunting was the main threat to Southern right whales. Today, these beautiful animals face several other threats. These threats include;
Entanglement. Whales get entangled in marine debris and fishing equipment. This can injure or kill them. Fishing equipment cut through their skin. This exposes them to infections that can lead to death. Being entangled restricts their mobility. This affects their feeding and swimming.
Vessel disturbance. Several reports of vessel collisions have been made. This leads to serious injuries or death. Southern right whales are more involved in these collisions than other whale species.
Underwater noise. Various activities produce noises in the water. Industrial activities such as blasting and drilling cause underwater noise. These noises cause permanent or temporal hearing loss among the whales. This puts their lives in great danger.
Global warming. It leads to the warming of oceans which disrupts the availability of food. Warming oceans also affect reproduction.
What you can do to help?
You can play a key role in protecting southern right whales. First, be responsible while on safari. Don’t choose just any company when you want to watch whales. Choose a responsible company. This is also very important while going on safari. Choose a company that protects wildlife. Second, you can donate to conservation organizations.
Do you love whales? You can watch them while on safari. This is also a great opportunity to see wildlife in Africa. Africa is the best destination for seeing and hearing great wildlife. We can help you plan a memorable safari. Feel free to contact us today.