Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni)
Suborder: Mysticeti Family: Balaenopteridae
Has been sighted in Hawaiian waters.
Other known names:
Identity keys to use in the field:
Streamlined body, Two blowholes, Throat grooves, Pointed pectoral fins, Blue-gray skin color, Sickle shaped dorsal fin, Flukes rarely seen above the surface, Broad flukes, May approach boats.
General description and habits:
Bryde's whales may be confused with Sei whales, Minke whales and Fin whales. However there is one important difference, Bryde's whales have three parallel ridges on their heads where the others have only two. Their slender bodies are smoky gray in color that may seem brown in some situations. They are often mottled and slightly scarred and their ventral surfaces are light purple, gray-blue or creamy-gray. Bryde's whales have between 40 and 70 throat pleats that allow their mouths to expand when they are feeding. Their dorsal fins are erect and hooked, with a pointed tip, their tail flukes are broad with a distinct middle notch, and their flippers are slender and relatively short, approximately one tenth of their body length. Offshore Bryde's whales are larger than those that live near the coast and have larger baleen and more scars. Bryde's whales are between 3.4 and 4 meters (11ft 3in - 13ft 3in) long when they are born. They grow to between 11.5 and 14.5 meters (37ft 9in - 47ft 6in) long and females tend to be slightly larger than males. When they are born, Bryde's whales weigh about 900kg (1985lb). When they are fully grown, they weigh between 12 and 20 tonnes. Typical feeding behavior can be seen at 2 main sites; Gulf of California, Mexico and Kochi Prefecture, Japan. Bryde's whales usually feed alone, though mothers and calves will often feed together. They often make sudden changes of direction when feeding, both on the surface and underwater. Unlike some other baleen whales, Bryde's whales do not migrate large distances and feed all year round. They are sometimes curious around boats and will approach them or swim alongside. They do not have regular breathing patterns, but will often do 4 - 7 blows followed by a dive, usually of 2 minutes duration although they are capable of staying below the surface for longer. When surfacing between dives they rarely show more than the top of their head. Their blow or spout is tall, thin and hazy.
Fish, krill and other crustaceans.
Bryde's whales are unique amongst the baleen whales in that they spend the entire year in the tropical and subtropical zones, preferring waters of 20º C or more. There is an offshore form and a coastal form. A 'dwarf' version has also recently been recognized, which lives around the Solomon Islands.
Like other large whales, they are threatened by environmental change (including noise and chemical pollution). Japanese whalers have started hunting these whales again. In 2000 they killed 43 (out of a quota of 50 which they set themselves) in the North West Pacific.
Bryde's is pronounced "broo-dess". The whales are named after Johan Bryde who helped in the building of the first whaling factory in Durban, South Africa in 1909. Unlike other baleen whales, Bryde's whales do not migrate, and spend the whole year in tropical and subtropical waters. Parasites and cookie-cutter sharks cause the scars on their skin.