Bryde’s whale is a small to medium-sized baleen whale which can be found swimming throughout the tropical/subtropical climates of the world.
There is also a smaller and more elusive whale known as the “pygmy bryde’s whale” which is a considerably smaller and less abundant than the more popular and better known bryde’s whale.
This whale gets its name from Johan Bryde, an entrepreneur and businessman from the Norwegians who was responsible for setting up whaling ports designed to capture whales and sell their oil, blubber and other parts for money during the whaling era.
Although bryde’s whale wasn’t significantly hunted during the History of Whaling they did become more popular during the 1970’s as other species began to be depleted in popular whaling areas.
Physical Characteristics and Appearance
Bryde’s whale is known for carrying certain physical characteristics that closely resemble that of the sei whale.
In terms of size bryde’s whale can reach lengths of up to 55 ft and weigh up to 30 tons when it is fully matured, however depending on where they live these whales may only grow to be 40 – 50 ft long.
In rare instance there have also been observations of smaller whales measuring less than 35 ft. long.
On average male whales tend to be slightly smaller than their female counterparts.
These whales have long slender bodies with a combination of dark gray and white skin coloring.
To protect their blowholes from accidentally taking in water they have a splash guard with three ridges near their blowholes.
While these whales typically travel at speeds of less than 5 miles per hour they can reach up to 15 miles per hour when startled or threatened.
Diet and Hunting Methods
In order to maintain their diet these marine mammals are often found in areas that have abundant supplies of fish and other prey.
They capture their food by looking for large swarms or gatherings of potential prey and then swim through the swarm and engulf whatever food is available.
In some cases these whales may be spotted hunting and stealing prey that other marine animals have worked hard to herd together and obtain.
Common methods for obtaining prey include bubble netting, lunging towards large swarms of prey to capture as many fish in their mouth as possible and skimming the waters surface for food.
Habitat and Migration
These whales can be found living in various tropical/subtropical waters throughout the world and can be seen swimming in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
Depending on where these whales are found some species may migrate towards the cooler climates during the summer in order to keep from getting to hot and return back towards the warmer areas near the equator during the winter, while other species may stay in a central area all year-long.
Smaller whales tend to prefer living near the coastline while larger whales can be found living further out to sea.
Social Structure and Communication
Bryde’s whales are often found traveling either alone or in smaller groups of 2 – 4 whales.
While these whales are largely solitary animals they can be found gathered in larger groups of 10 – 30 during feeding and mating periods.
Unlike other species of baleen whales bryde’s whale tends to move in irregular patterns both surfacing and changing direction for no particular reason making their patterns unpredictable and unusual.
Although little is known about how bryde’s whale communicates it is known that like other species within the baleen family bryde’s whale communicates using low-frequency sounds which often resemble the sound of someone moaning.
In some cases these sounds may come in short bursts which last less than half a second while others are longer and more drawn out.
While the purpose of these sounds are unknown they are most likely used to communicate a desire to mate, to alert others of nearby danger, to find other members of a group or pod or to let others know of nearby food among other survival based communication.
Reproduction and Lifespan
The average gestation period for bryde’s whale is approximately 11-12 months.
When first born these marine mammals measure an average of 10 – 14 ft. long (approximately 20% -25% the size of an adult) and weigh around 2,000 – 2,500 lbs..
After birth the female whale will nurse her calf for 6 – 12 months or until the newborn is able to hunt and survive on it’s without the need of additional support from its mother.
Sexual maturity for these whales is between 7 – 14 years at which point they reach their matured size and may begin mating and bearing offspring of their own.
Bryde’s whales may give birth once every 2 – 4 years while they remain fertile.
Insufficient data exists regarding the lifespan of these animals.
Although not significantly hunted during the whaling era Bryde’s beaked whale was occasionally targeted by whales and become a more popular source of commercial whaling during the 1970’s as other whale populations began to decline in numbers.
Today Bryde’s beaked whale is a protected species, however they may still face threats from humans in the form of collisions with large ships or boats that may strike these whales as they pass by.
Note: While collisions with ships due occur these instances appear to be fairly infrequent.
In addition to being hit by ships these whales may also be affected by loud artificial noises that can interfere with their ability to communicate, search for food and navigate the ocean.
And as the water becomes more polluted waste, physical materials and chemical pollution may also threaten certain populations.
6 Enthralling Bryde’s whale facts
1) At an average length of 40 – 55 ft. long Bryde’s whale is considered a mid sized whale among the baleen whale suborder with the smaller minke whale measuring an average length of 22 – 25 ft. long and the larger blue whale measuring an average of 70 – 90 ft. long.
2) This marine mammals name comes from Johan Bryde, who helped set up the first modern whaling station in South Africa.
3) In addition to Bryde’s whale there is also a smaller species of Bryde’s whale known as Sittang or Eden’s whale which can be found in the indo-pacific ocean as well as a smaller coastal whale that is sometimes referred to as the Indo-Pacific Bryde’s whale.
4) Due to its smaller size Bryde’s whale remained relatively safe from early commercial whaling expeditions and wasn’t extensively hunted until the 1970’s when larger baleen whale species became harder to find due to excessive whaling efforts.
5) When searching for food these marine mammals can dive underwater for up to 20 minutes before resurfacing for air.
6) Being part of the baleen whale suborder Bryde’s whale does not possess teeth, but is equipped with baleen plates that have bristles attached to them to allow the whale to filter prey from the water.