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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Bryde's Whale
Order Cetacea : Family Balaenopteridae : Balaenoptera edeni Anderson

Bryde's Whale (Balaenoptera edeni).  Illustration by Pieter A. Folkens.Description. Bryde’s whales are the second smallest of rorquals and only average 12.2-13.1 m in length and 12 metric tons in weight. As with all rorquals, females tend to be a little larger than males. Maximum length is about 15.5 m.

Bryde’s whales are unique in having three head ridges extending from the blowholes to the end of the rostrum. This is the only baleen whale with this feature, although several have one such ridge, and the presence of three head ridges will always distinguish B. edeni. Coloration is a dark, bluish-gray overall but somewhat lighter in the throat area. The dorsal fin is only about 46 cm in height and rises abruptly from the back. Bryde’s whales have ventral pleats extending to, or slightly beyond, the navel.

Distribution in Texas. Bryde’s whales are not yet known from Texas, but have stranded on nearby beaches in Louisiana. It is probable that one of these whales will one day strand along the Texas coast.

Habits. Bryde’s whales appear to be near-shore, year-round residents of tropical and subtropical waters. Although most commonly seen in groups of five to six, large groups of 30-40 have been observed in areas of food concentrations. This whale frequently feeds on pelagic fishes such as pilchard, mackerel, herring, mullet, and anchovies; however, cephalopods and pelagic crustaceans (krill) are also eaten.

Bryde’s whales are believed to breed year round and their gestation period is estimated to be 12 months. Calves are about 4 m long at birth and weigh 1 metric ton. Sexual maturity is reached at 8-10 years and the animals are about 12 m long at this time.

Remarks. Bryde’s whales are one of the more frequently observed baleen whales from the Gulf of Mexico. These whales have stranded on Gulf beaches in winter, spring, and summer, indicating that they may be year-round residents of these waters.

Illustration credit: Pieter A. Folkens.