Pygmy Right Whale
Caperea marginata

Other Names: None

Habitat: Inshore and offshore

Status: Unknown

Population: Unknown

Threats: Entanglement in fishing nets

Group Size: 1-2

Fin Position: Far behind center

Newborns: c.5 -7 ft (1.6-2.2 m), Unknown

Adults: 18-21 ft (5.5-6.5 m), 3-3.5 tons

Diet: Krill or other crustaceans

Baleen: 213-230 baleen plates on each side


Dorsal fin:

- small, sickle-shaped dorsal fin
- concave trailing edge


- light undersides with dark margins
- dark upper sides
- distinct notch in middle
- broad flukes
- pointed tips
- small, narrow flippers
- dark upper sides of flippers stand out against paler body
- slightly rounded tips


- small ridge runs from near blowhole to tip to snout
- blowholes in slight depression
- head about one-quarter of body length
- rounded lump at base of throat
- jaw may become more arched with age
- light lower jaw, dark rostrum


- white baleen gum and tongue contrast with dark head
- ivory-colored baleen

Other characteristics:

- dark gray or blue-gray upper side
- streamlined body
- pale gray or white underside
- pale underside may darken with age


- inconspicuous at sea, with a small, indistinct blow
- typically spends no more than a few seconds at the surface no more than a few seconds at the surface at any one time
- breaching and lobtailing have not been observed
- surfaces like a Minke Whale, "throwing" its snout out of the water; but unlike the Minke, its dorsal fin and back sometimes remain hidden from view
- a flash of white may be seen (the lower jaw or baleen gum) as the snout breaks the surface
- the flukes are never lifted clear of the water
- generally swims slowly, in an unusual, undulating style, with waves of movement along the whole body, but is capable of rapid acceleration
- limited evidence suggests that longer dives last between 40 seconds and 4 minutes
- has been observed associating with Long-finned Pilot Whales, Sei Whales, and possibly Minke Whale


- temperate waters of the southern hemisphere, both inshore and offshore
- mostly known for widely dispersed strandings, especially in New Zealand, southern Australia, and South Africa, but little information is available
- most records within 31 S and 52 S, although there is one from Tierra del Fuego, southern South America, at 55 S
- real limit seems to be the surface water temperature: rarely found outside 41-68 F (5-20 C)
- juveniles may migrate into inshore waters during spring and summer
- at least some populations are year-round residents, for example in Tasmania
- most observations have been in sheltered, shallow bays, but several individuals have been encountered in the open sea

TMMSN Galveston

TMMSN Corpus Christi

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This page was created by:Candice Orca Mottet