What Color Are Whales?

First, to put things into perspective there are about 80 – 90 different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise that have been recorded so for and depending on the species these marine mammals can vary widely in terms of color, size and shape.

All of these marine mammals belong to the cetacean family and are broken down into one of two suborders referred to as baleen whales and toothed whales.

The baleen whale suborder is made up of all large whales, which are born with baleen plates and bristles instead of teeth.

Note: Baleen whales are also sometimes referred to as the true or great whales.

Toothed whales on the other hand are born with teeth and include all species of dolphin and porpoise, which are also cetaceans.

Most whales tend to be various shades of light to dark grey, blue and black, which may lighten or darken as the whale ages.

Some whale species may also appear to be a brownish color while the beluga whale is born white.

If you include toothed whales such as the amazon river dolphin (all species of dolphin belong to the toothed whale family) then the color palette may also include yellow and pink.

On rare occasions an all white (albino) whale may also be spotted, but this type of birth is very uncommon and sightings of these whales are rare.

It is also important to clarify that the beluga whale is different from an albino whale in the fact that these whales are naturally white where as an albino whale (such as the previously recorded albino killer whale and albino humpback whale) are normally black and white or gray, but were born white due to a rare disease that eliminated their pigmentation.

Some whales may even be named (partially) after their color, such as the blue whale, gray whale or pink river dolphin.

The blue whale (the largest animal in existence) for example is a bluish – gray color, but appears to be purely blue when it is submerged underneath the water.

The gray whale is a dark grayish slate color with white spots covering parts of its body.

Killer whales have black backs with a white chest and white spots behind their eyes. The white chest of these marine mammals is believed to resemble the color of the sun and the sky when looked at from above in order to camouflage them as they move in to attack their prey.

Beluga whales are born with a dark grey to brownish coloring which lightens to white as they grow older and reach maturity.

As you can see there is a great variety of colors and shades among different species of whale.

Lastly, some whale species may also be born with or develop white or gray spots as they grow older and some whales may show white or light-colored scaring from fights they’ve had with other whales or predators such as sharks.

Note: Migaloo, an all white albino whale is currently found swimming in Australian waters. Migaloo is the only documented case of a white humpback whale and is believed to be the only albino humpback in existence.