Talk:Right whale

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Life Span[edit]

I couldnt find any information on the page about the life span of these whales. How long do they live?

A: Right whales may have a life expectancy of over 60 years, although this figure is not at all certain (very little is known about these whales).

And a couple of years ago a 19th century harpoon tip was found in a right whale, increasing the lifespan estimate to over 100 years. (I should find this citation, but for now...) In addition, there were eye protein studies ongoing that placed the potential lifespan at well into the 100s. Graham 05:01, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


(Moving from inline to talk)

Why the specific information about Massachusetts? I'm not sure how relevant this is to the topic at large. It doesn't seem to fit in this section, which is mostly about groups advocating protection of the whale.

The state of Massachusetts conservation efforts include a special driver's registration plate depicting a right whale. Part of the fee for buying such a plate is given to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust.(REF: A picture of the plate and further detail can be found at the Government of Massachusetts website.

I agree. Maybe things will change so it there is a better spot to put. For now it is not important. Pcb21 Pete 16:30, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Saw the page and thought it to be somehow relevant

  • This is info is very localized. Since it only applies to Mass. about 99% of readers probably don't need to know this. Although, it may make a good external link. --Maintain 05:49, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Float when killed?[edit]

I understood that they were the "right" whales because they produced a good yield of oil. Surely most, if not all, whales float when killed? I am not an expert of course. --Richard Clegg 15:01, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

My understanding is that many species of whale sink when killed: that is really the point. -- ALoan (Talk) 10:22, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough then. I did say I wasn't an expert. --Richard Clegg 11:32, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I am not an expert either, but I have seen it said many times that right whales float and various other ones don't that. I've never actually killed a whale to find out, though... -- ALoan (Talk) 11:53, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

First Paragraph[edit]

I find the first paragraph rather hard to understand in terms of the taxonomic arrangement of Balaenidae. I've posted below a possible rewording, feel free to suggest amendmants to it:

The right whales are baleen whales belonging to the family Balaenidae. This family contains two genera: Eubalaena, in which the three right whale species are found, and Balaena containing the Bowhead Whale.

Suicidalhamster 19:22, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Samirat: I agree. The taxonomical reference is too general. "Right whales" can be narrowed down to the genus Eubalaena. They could simply narrow it down at first, instead of mentioning the vague family name, since all "right whales" are in the one genus. This one point can't be edited, however, without changing some of the information later in the article. I think the Suicidal Hamster's change is not without merit, certainly better worded and more specific.

As I understand it, the Bowhead Whale is also called the Greenland Right Whale - doesn't that make the Bowhead Whale a Right Whale too? -- ALoan (Talk) 09:49, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I hadn't realised that the Bowhead whale was also known as a Right Whale. The 'the' could be removed from my suggestion but not sure how much this would improve on what is already present. - Suicidalhamster 18:23, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Article topic - Balaenidae or Eubalaena?[edit]

How did this get to be today's featd article. It can't decide whether it's about only the three species of Eubalaena or about the four species of Balaenidae. Nurg 01:18, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

4 species vs 3 species?[edit]

In the intro, I find this sentence: "The right whales are the baleen whales belonging to the family Balaenidae. There are four species in two genera: Eubalaena (three species) and Balaena (one species, the Bowhead Whale)."

But in the first paragraph of "Taxonomy", I find this sentence: "After many years of shifting views on the number of right whale species, recent genetic evidence has led scientists in the field to conclude that there are in fact three distinct right whale species."

It seems to me that it's saying there are both four and three species of right whale! Unless there's a difference between a "species" and a "distinct species", I'm not quite sure what to make of this... --T. S. Rice 01:30, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't like the look of the taxobox either. I think it should use subdivision ranks instead of mentioning Genus twice. Mgiganteus1


  • "The three right whale species live in geographically distinct locations."
  • "The North Pacific species is on average the largest of the three." etc.
  • and see Callosity.

The article does mention the classification issues, but seems to have made its own decision along the way. Outriggr 03:43, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I was going to comment on that first paragraph as well (having just read it on the "featured articles" box on the main page. It is very confusing and comes across as an error (the four versus three thing). No idea how to fix it best, just wanted to mention it. Fram 08:32, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Right whales[edit]

As opposed to the wrong whales? Vitriol 09:36, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Or the left whales. We may never know :) -Obli (Talk)? 10:33, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Most definitely the right (correct) whales, rather than the wrong whales - the ones that float when you kill them, rather than the other ones, that sink. -- ALoan (Talk) 10:46, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

So can I ask why it is spelled 'right' rather than 'Right'? It leapt out of the page at me when it was the fratured article of the day today?

For the same reason we write baleen whales not Baleen whales. Nurg 03:06, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Metric ton vs tonne[edit]

I really think that when mentioning the mass (weight) of the right whale the unit should be expressed in "tonnes" rather than the American usage of "metric tons".

I've changed it — "metric tons" in any case redirects to "tonnes". --Bazza 12:55, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
There are still references to "metric tons" - was this missed, or did the change get reverted? --Kurt 01:15, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
No, it was me being lazy. I've done it properly now and changed them all. Bazza 12:22, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Whaling Products Soon Back on the Market?[edit]

It seems that pro-whaling interests are methodically setting the table not only to overturn the existing ban on whaling, but also to re-establish the market for the products of commercial whaling. Buyer beware - Having narrowly failed to overturn the ban at this year's IWC conference, pro-whalers are now trying to ease restrictions by downlisting whale oil and spermaceti from CITES I to CITES II. Concurrently, there are moves afoot in Brussels to raise the tariff on the jojoba derivatives which are the closest competitor to spermaceti (whale oil fraction). Spermaceti (although momentarily restricted) is clearly classified under a zero tariff heading (1521.9010), so that when restrictions are eased, the EU will have created a grotesque subsidy for whale oil products over their only botanical alternative, jojoba esters. Istvan 14:52, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

A good description is found here [1] Istvan 22:00, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

The Picture[edit]

Is it offensive or shocking to any of you in that its bot what we want to shock people with on the homepage. -- 15:25, 29 June 2006 (UTC) I, as a biologist, don't find this picture offensive. It is the result of what happens when a whale is killed by a boat, it should be shown in the Conservation section of the article. If you find the picture offensive, go look at something else.PowderedToastMan 08:17, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Featured Article Review?[edit]

I'm a little shocked that this article achieved FA status. This problem with not knowing how many species there are should have been more than enough to kill the nom. If we can't get this straightened out ASAP, I think we need to put the article up for a FA Review in the hopes of attracting some attention and hopefully getting a resolution. Thoughts? Matt Deres 16:51, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, this is embarrassing. The featured version (from May this year) had the same confusion. It shouldn't be hard to fix- all four species are already covered here, so it just needs a bit of rewording - but it has to be done (preferably by someone who knows something about the subject). HenryFlower 18:39, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it should be straightforward, on the condition that there is no wish to have a separate article on Eubalaena. Is this the case? Nurg 05:05, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Surprising distribution[edit]

Is it only me that finds the following extract from the article odd?

"In recent years, genetic studies have provided clear evidence that the northern and southern populations have not interbred for between 3 million and 12 million years, confirming the status of the Southern Right Whale as a distinct species. More surprising has been the finding that the northern hemisphere Pacific and Atlantic populations are also distinct, and that the Pacific species (now known as the Pacific Northern Right Whale), is in fact more closely allied with the Southern Right Whale than with the Atlantic Northern Right Whale."

Why should it be surprising that the populations in the northern Atlantic and the northern Pacific are distinct? To me it would seem much more likely that they would be distinct than populations in the north Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. This is because the barrier that North and South America form between the Atlantic and Pacific would seem like a far more formidible barrier than that of the equatorial regions bewtween the north and south Atlantic. It is conceivable after all that a whale could swim from the north Atlantic to the south or vice versa but it is inconceivable that it could somehow cross the Isthmus of Panama! In addition, the frozen waters north of Canada would surely block any Atlantic-Pacific migration. Booshank 22:34, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


This article being on the front page seems to drawing the attention of vandals. Can we get it protected? --PiMaster3 23:49, 29 June 2006 (UTC)


I did a literature search and could find no evidence for the claim (often repeated, never supported) that sharks represent a significan Balaenid predator. In addition, it would be just wrong to cite the predators as "some of the larger sharks," as the largest two species are plankton eaters exclusively (cf. whale shark and basking shark). Graham 05:01, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


You made it a featured article what, two days ago? Vitriol 13:51, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Merge from Balaenidae / crammed article[edit]

"Balaenidae" covers 4 species of whale, as does this article ("Right whale"). There should only be one article which covers all 4 species, and 4 separate articles for the actual species. The taxobox here is ridiculously crammed. Also, I've listed other cases of Crammed cetacean articles elsewhere. —Pengo 06:56, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Doesn't Balaenidae cover both Bowhead whale and Right whale? So, we couldn't merge it only here, could we? Since there are four species under this article and Balaenidae only shows four I think it is missing one of the right wale species. I suppose I am not really sure. gren グレン 07:03, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
    • Whether "Right Whale" should cover the bowhead whale seems to be a matter of debate (I don't know enough to have an opinion), but currently the article does cover the bowhead: i.e. B. mysticetus is listed in the Right Whale taxobox. Whether it continues to or not, something has to change, and all four species deserve their own articles. —Pengo 09:45, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I've just noticed that Bowhead Whale has its own article, so I've made this one just about the Eubalaena genus (which excludes Bowhead Whales), although the text of the article still refers to the bowhead whale as a right whale. I'm leaving that for someone else to clean up. :) —Pengo 09:57, 13 May 2007 (UTC) And I've also collapsed the monstrous range map collection. Still the individual species should get their own articles. —Pengo 10:20, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
      • Ah, I hadn't noticed that it covered Bowhead whales. What you did looks great to me, especially compressing the many range images into one. Hopefully someone who knows more about this will fix it up since this is featured gren グレン 11:48, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Is bowhead a right?[edit]

The Right Whale article says outright that Bowheads are Rights (unless you only look at the taxobox), Balaenidae says outright that they're not. The Bowhead whale article sheds a little light but doesn't take sides. This needs to be fixed up, and I nominate you. —Pengo 14:31, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

I had a look in a book and 'Whales and dolphins' by Anthony Martin talks about the right whales being the whales found in the eubalaena genus, while the bowhead is not a right whale. If someone has a newer taxonomic book then we could really classify. I have always referred to the bowhead as not being a right whale. Chris_huhtalk 19:12, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Actually i just looked at a different page in that book and it calls the Balaenidae family 'the Right Whales' so, that doesnt help. Chris_huhtalk 19:14, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

Right then:

  • A Bowhead is also called the Greenland Right Whale. It is a right whale but not the Right Whale. To confuse matters further it looks like the true RW is now split into 3 species, making 4 right whales in total. Furthermore the Bowhead looks like it is more closely related to the other RWs than previously thought and they should all be in the same genus (!)
  • This article varies between being about the 3 new species and sometimes being about the 4th as well.
  • Given Wikipedia is moving to single pages on single speices the term Right Whale now should link to the family Balaenidae - and all species on their separate pages with material in the appropraite place
  • Only problem is RW is FA......

Anyway - consensus discussion starts here.cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:29, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

  • Comment -- this is fairly easily fixed -- we just need to find a verifiable souce which either disproves or proves RW or Balaenidae, and act accordingly. Mind you, this should be done quickly, because if it turns out that RW is in the wrong we have an FA with false info. -- Anonymous DissidentTalk -- (dated 00:37, 16 June 2007 UTC)
Someone should ask UtherSRG (talk · contribs). This will be covered by the MSW3. Marskell 14:10, 16 June 2007 (UTC)
I've left a message for him.cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 15:08, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately MSW3 is fairly quiet on this issue. The given taxonomy is correct, but whether family Balaenidae is called the right wales or not, I can not say. But if the Bowhead is also called the Greenland Right Whale, then I'd say yes indeed, the family is the right whale family, and the Bowhead is a right wale. - UtherSRG (talk) 13:18, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

OK - if it weren't for the fact that this article is FA, I think making "Right whale" redirect to Balaenidae would be fine, especially as the species formerly known as "Right Whale" is actually now 3 species. I have a book called "The Whale" by Tre Tryckare ISBN 0-517-N0104X which calls Balaenidae Right Whales and calls the Bowhead Greenland RW throughout. One minute I'll see on google.cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 14:54, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
[Tolweb] calls Balaenidae Right whales. American Cetacean Society seems t o stick to RWs and Bowhead separately....cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 14:58, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

Update - I have an idea; given the confusion, may be better to have RW as a disambig page as RW can mean either - the 3 Eubalaena spp., or all 4 members of Balaenidae. Then each species has its page, as does Eubalaena and Balaenidae. This would involve chopping up a current Featured Article....How do we feel about this? cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:29, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

It appears that the scientific community has reached somewhat of a consensus on this topic. See the section below entitled, Bowhead is not a right whale. Thanks, Groll†ech (talk) 12:42, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

Winter or Summer???[edit]

In the Whale Watching section it is said: "During the winter months (July–October)" regarding South Africa. Later, again, it is said that they are seen in Argentina in the breeding season "(winter)". Now, July-October is hardly "winter", since it is -in the southern hemisphere- the end of winter and the beginning of spring. I believe the breeding season must be spring: the Encarta says (spanish version, my translation): "[the right whales] go every spring (from August to November) to the Península Valdés ... where they find the ideal conditions to pair, give birth and raise the calves." Perhaps someone got confused with the seasons in the northern hemisphere, I don't know. Nazroon 06:04, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, since winter in the southern hemisphere goes from the end of June through the end of September, it sounds like most of the winter to me. Perhaps "winter and early spring". - UtherSRG (talk) 09:57, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Taxobox Image[edit]

What happened to the taxobox image? It seems to be trying to reference the same file that was used when this article appeared on the Main Page, so the image must existed then and been appropriate (e.g., no copyright violations) at that time. If the image has moved, the link in the article should be adjusted (not sure how to find the moved image though). And if the image was deleted, a different image should be used in the taxobox, or else if the image was deleted inappropriately, an admin should undelete it. Rlendog (talk) 16:50, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Status in Taxobox[edit]

Include conservation status in taxobox? (talk) 20:18, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Dead whales[edit]

This important information needs to be added: I will do it myself when I have time if someone else does not get to it first. Gandydancer (talk) 00:03, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

Whale Rider[edit]

Right whales feature heavily in the book/film Whale Rider, what about adding it to the article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:01, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't think that the book or film contributes to the knowledge pool of right whales. Am I wrong? What information about right whales does the book or film depict that isn't "featured" in scholarly (non-fiction) sources already given in this article? – jaksmata 18:34, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Fossil Record section[edit]

The fossil record section should be move to a genus level article on Balaena, as it has little specific to do with Eubalaena. Eubalaena does have a distinct fossil record that should be covered in general with this article. There are two extinct species in the fossil record and the E. australis and E. glacialis both have records from the ice age and earlier.

--Kevmin § 07:52, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

Great info... is there a reference you can point us to? Thanks! Groll†ech (talk) 12:45, 24 May 2012 (UTC)
I found the following references... For E. belgica (Abel, 1941):
Abel, O. (1941). "Vorlaufige Mitteilungen über die Revision der fossilen Mystacoceten aus dem Tertiar Belgiens". Bulletin du Museum Royal d'Historie Naturelles du Belgique (32): 1–29.  Unknown parameter |vol= ignored (|volume= suggested) (help)
And for E. shinshuensis (Kimura & Narita, 2007):
Kimura, T.; Narita, K. (2007). "A new species of Eubalaena (Cetacea: Mysticeti: Balaenidae) from the Gonda Formation (latest Miocene-early Pliocene) of Japan". Bulletin of the Gunma Museum of Natural History: 15–27.  Unknown parameter |vol= ignored (|volume= suggested) (help)
I'll include these in the article. Grollτech (talk) 08:19, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

FA concerns[edit]

When comparing this article to the FA criteria there are signs of aging. Most importantly are the multiple Citation Needed tags present on the page and entire paragraphs that go unreferenced. Furthermore the images "sandwich" the text, and an image review would be encouraged. Multiple books are missing page numbers, and other references require further formatting. Prose is also lacking– the article is not comprehensive and parts of it read awkwardly. Dead links are present while alt text is lacking. Currently not close to FA quality. Albacore (talk) 02:34, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Bowhead is not a right whale[edit]

This page is a day or two away from being de-listed as a featured article, and frankly, in its current state, it isn't worthy of featured article, and here's just one of the reasons... Now, I'm one of those few people that find taxonomy fascinating, but this article has developed a frustrating and confusing split personality over the debate that has been raging for years about whether to include or exclude the Bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus), formerly known as the Greenland right whale, in the exclusive "right whale club". But Wikipedia is supposed to report the facts, and here are the facts, as they stand today: this article is about the Eubalaena genus. Period. Bowhead's gotta go the way of Pluto, because the scientific community has said so.

To wit:

  • The page for the genus Eubalaena is a redirect to right whale, this page.
  • The genus Balaena has its own page, as does the species bowhead whale.
  • This article includes unreferenced statements like, "Genetic evidence appears to have settled a long-standing question[citation needed] about whether to include the largest, the Arctic-dwelling bowhead whale, with the rest. All four are included in the taxonomic family Balaenidae, and all four are generally referred to as right whales[citation needed]." (citation needed emphasis added).
  • A little further down, it says, A future review will likely place all four species in one genus.[citation needed][Bowhead Note 1] Little genetic evidence supports the historic two-genera view.[citation needed] (citation needed emphasis added).
  • It turns out that the source in the above reference is outdated – the current version of that same resource directly contradicts those above statements:

"Within the suborder, 14 species are now generally recognized. Although Rice believed that all right whales belong with the bowhead in the genus Balaena, recent genetic analysis have recognized three separate right whale species, in the genus Eubalaena: in the North Atlantic (E. glacialis); in the North Atlantic (E. japonica); and in the Southern Hemisphere (E. australis)."[Bowhead Note 2]


"The study by Churchill (2007) now has provided the evidence to conclude that the three living right whale species do comprise a phylogenetic lineage distinct from the bowhead and are rightly classified into a separate genus." (emphasis added)[Bowhead Note 3]

  • At present, three major global authorities (IWC, CMS and IUCN) still accept the Southern, North Atlantic, and North Pacific as the three species of right whales, also referred to collectively as the "black" right whales, and they all continue to keep the bowhead in its own genus. The IUCN goes a step further, saying, "The taxonomy is not in doubt" on their bowhead whale assessment page. That page, of course, keeps the bowhead in Balaena.
  • The Integrated Taxonomic Information System, at, is an online taxonometric database that is the result of a partnership of U.S. federal agencies, formed to satisfy their mutual needs for scientifically credible taxonomic information. They too concur.

So unless somebody can present an authoritative cite (newer than Nov. 2008, and from a taxonometric authority or other global authority like the 4 aforementioned bodies), I'm gonna go ahead and be bold and merciless with cuts and reorganization of this page over the next few days, so as to at least make an attempt to rescue it from delisting.

Bowhead Notes

  1. ^ Kenney, Robert D. (2002). "North Atlantic, North Pacific and Southern Right Whales". In William F. Perrin, Bernd Wursig and J. G. M. Thewissen. The Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. pp. 806–813. ISBN 0-12-551340-2. 
  2. ^ Bannister, John L. (2008). "Baleen Whales (Mysticetes)". In Perrin, W. F.; Wursig, B.; Thewissen, J. G. M. Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-12-373553-9. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Kenney, Robert D. (2008). Box 1: Taxonomic Rules, J.E. Grey, and Right Whale Names. In Perrin, W. F.; Wursig, B.; Thewissen, J. G. M. "Right Whales (Eubalaena glacialis, E. japonica, and E. australis)". Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. p. 963. ISBN 978-0-12-373553-9. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 

Groll†ech (talk) 22:51, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

Removal of "Case Study"[edit]

I have just removed a huge chunk of this article. The article is an FA and was reviewed recently; at the time of review, this "Case Study" was not in there. The section was added in October 2012 by an editor whose only interest on Wikipedia was adding this particular section. The prose is not up to par; the amount of detail is excessive and the formatting of sources does not agree with the rest of the article. Moreover, the section read like an overly-detailed and non-neutral primary study: there is no doubt in my mind that this section would have prevented the article from maintaining FA status. It is entirely possible that some of the information is useful and valid and should or could be added to the article, but it has to be done in an appropriate way. Drmies (talk) 02:46, 11 April 2013 (UTC)