Bryde’s Whale

Scientific Name:
Balaenoptera brydei
13.0 m (42.7 ft)
12000 kg (26400 lbs)
data deficient
Varies seaonsally and locally: wide variety of fish, crustaceans, cephalopods; Japan: anchovy, euphausiids, oceanic lighfish; South Africa: anchovy, maasbankers, pilchards, deep-sea fish; Gulf of California: Pacific sardine, pelagic red crabs, euphausiids

Physical characteristics

Has large head and eyes and an erect, curved, pointed, "falcate" dorsal fin located far down its back.The flukes are broad and the dorsal fin is visible at the surface. Broad, centrally notched tail flukes never break the surface. The flippers are small and slender. The color varies: the back is generally dark grey or blue to black, the ventral area is a lighter cream, shading to greyish purple on the belly. Some have a number of whitish-grey spots; asymmetrical head coloring, similar to fin whales.

Behavioral characterization

Their blow is columnar, about 3.0 – 4.0 m high and they surface at irregular intervals and can change directions for unknown reasons.


Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, from 40° South to 40° North. Vagrants have been reported as far north as California and Washington.

Population size

90,000 – 100,000



Migration/Dispersal patterns

Some populations migrate to higher latitudes during sommer, some populations do not migrate.

Social system/Group size

Usually solitary or in pairs, larger groups have been observed at feeding areas.

Major threats

Ship strikes, noise and whaling.

Research efforts


Fun fact

Named after Johan Bryde, who helped construct first South African whaling factory.