10 Facts You Didn't Know About Bryde's Whales
27 May 2019

10 Facts You Didn't Know About Bryde's Whales

There are fantastic opportunities to see the Nationally Endangered Bryde's whale during your visit to Auckland!


1. The Bryde's whale is named after a Norweigan man called Johan Bryde who discovered the species when he helped to set up one of the first whaling stations in South Africa.


Photo: Sandefjord Local Historical Centre


2. There are many ways of pronouncing 'Bryde's' but the correct way is 'brooders'.


3. They can grow up to 15 metres in length and weigh up to 40,000kg.


4. They can be distinguished from other similar looking whale species thanks to the 3 long ridges on the top of their heads which is unique to only the Bryde's whale.


The three ridges on the top of the Bryde's whale head is unique to this species.


5. They have the nickname 'the tropical whale' as they are not usually seen in cooler waters. In New Zealand, they are only regularly seen in the waters around the North Island with the majority of sightings in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.


6. Bryde's whales are also thought to be one of the only species of whale that do not migrate long distances.


7. The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park has been shown to be an important area for mother and calf Bryde's whales.


Mum and calf Bryde's whale surfacing next to the Dolphin Explorer


8. Population estimates conducted in Auckland suggest that the Bryde's whales have a population of around 140 animals and so they have been given a 'Nationally Critical' status in New Zealand.


9. Bryde's whales are able to feed on 3 different types of food - fish, krill and plankton! In the Hauraki Gulf, when they are feeding on fish they are usually seen feeding alongside common dolphins and various seabirds. If they are feeding on krill or plankton, the Bryde's whales are usually seen along with different species of shearwater and petrel feeding on the same food.


A Bryde's whale lunge feeding on fish - you can just see some of them escaping from it's mouth


10. They are very shallow divers, spending the majority of their time in the top 10 metres of the water column. When they go for a 'long dive' this usually only lasts up to 5 minutes before resurfacing - great for whale watching!


You can listen to Dr Rochelle Constantine from Auckland University talking about Bryde's whales and the latest research we have been helping out with in a short radio interview here.