Bryde’s whales (pronounced BROO-duhz) are named after a Norwegian whaling entrepreneur nearly a century ago. They are baleen whales and rorquals. Rorquals – Norwegian for “furrowed whale” – have a series of longitudinal folds of skin running from below the mouth back to the navel.
Like other rorquals, Bryde’s whales are long and slender and have much more streamlined bodies than other large whales. Bryde's whales are dark grey in color on the dorsal side with a yellowish white ventral side. They have an average length of 12 metres, and the female is longer than the male. These whales can weigh 12 to 20 tonnes.
Bryde's whales are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and off the coast of Ethiopia in warm temperate and sub-tropical waters. They are not migratory, but are known to move between inshore to offshore waters to follow food. They feed almost exclusively on:
- pelagic fish, such as pilchard, mackerel, herring, and anchovies;
- pelagic crustaceans, such as shrimp, crabs, and lobsters; and
- cephalopods, such as octopus, squid, and cuttlefish.
Bryde's whales are quite opportunistic and will consume whatever shoaling prey is available. They often take advantage of the activities of other predators by swimming through and engulfing the fish they have herded. They are therefore frequently found in areas of high fish abundance, along with seabirds, seals, sharks, and other cetaceans.
It is not known how many of these whales inhabit Australian waters, but remarkably, a Bryde’s whale swam up the Manning River near Taree, in Northern NSW in 2004.
For tips on where you might be able to spot a Bryde’s whale, view the Best Vantage Points.