Bryde's whale

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Balaenoptera edeni


POR.: Baleia de Bryde – ITA.: Balenottera di Bryde – SPAIN: Rorcual tropical – GB: Bryde's whale – GER.: Brydeswal – NEDER.: Bryde-vinvis – SWEEDS.: Brydes fenval – NOORS.: Brydehval – DEENS.: Brydeshval - JAP.:Nitari Kujira


Bryde’s whales are the least known among the baleen whales. Several subspecies may exist, among which the "inshore" and "offshore" "pygmy" whale. The taxonomy of those subspecies is much debated and subject to many controversies.  The maximum size of this animal is about 15 metres in length. Females are larger than males. At birth, the calf measures 4 metres in length and weighs about 650 kg. When it is fully grown, the average weight is about 12 tonnes. Gestation lasts between 11 and 12 months. The female gives birth to only one calf every 2 years. The longevity of the species is estimated to be 40 years. They feed mainly on small gregarious fish and sometimes krill.


For the first time in the Azores, the team of Espaço Talassa observed and took pictures of 2 Bryde’s whales several times in July 2004. It is not surprising that the presence of this animal had never been proved so far in the Azores since its estimated population throughout the world is around 25,000 individuals and its geographical distribution located in the Atlantic between 40° N and 40° S maximum. They can easily be confused with sei whales, yet we noticed that their behaviour was more "active", since they breach more often, their speed is about 5 to 6 knots and above all they have 3 ridges on their heads (while the sei whale has just one). Its underside (belly) is light purple. Its blow is thin and 3-4 metres high, its breath is rapid and it often does 3 to 4 blows in a row.  The dives we observed lasted between 5 and 15 minutes. We’ve never been able to see its caudal fin when diving.