Northern right whale dolphin

The Northern right whale dolphin travels in groups of up to 2000, often with other cetaceans, in deep waters of the North Pacific. The dolphin is one of two species of right whale dolphin, the other being found in cooler oceans of the southern hemisphere.

The species has a streamlined body with a sloping forehead, they are more slender than other delphinids, and lack any fin or ridge on their smoothly curving backs. The beak is short and well defined, a straight mouthline, and an irregular white patch on chin. The flippers are small, curved, narrow and pointed, the body is mostly black while the underside is partly white or lighter in colour. The tail flukes are triangular and, like the flippers, pointed. As young calves, these dolphins are greyish brown or sometimes cream. They stay like this for a year, before their body turns mainly black, with a clear white belly, and a white streak to their lower jaw.

Northern right whale dolphin
  • Size

    Adults range in size from 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) in length, females are recorded as 2.3–2.6 m (7 ft 7 in–8 ft 6 in), males at 3.1 m (10 ft), the sexes are otherwise similar in colour and appearance. Newborns are around 90 centimetres (35 in).

  • Feeding

    Most delphinids primarily eat fish, along with a smaller number of squid and small crustaceans, but some species specialise in eating squid, or, in the case of the killer whale, also eat marine mammals and birds.

  • Life History

    Gestation lasts from 10 to 12 months, and results in the birth of a single calf.

  • Behavior

    This species usually travel in groups of 5–200 animals. When travelling fast the group will look like they're bouncing along on the water, as they make low leaps together, sometimes travelling as far as 7 metres in one leap. They often approach boats and partake in bow-riding behavior.