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

Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is home to the nationally endangered Bryde’s whale and we see them frequently on our safaris. Here are our top 10 facts you probably don’t already know about these gentle giants.

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

2. The correct way to pronounce the name of the Bryde’s whale is ‘brooders‘.

3. They can grow up to 15 metres in length and weigh up to 40 tonnes.

4. We can tell Bryde’s whales apart from other similar looking whale species thanks to the three long ridges on the top of their heads, which is unique to only the Bryde’s whale.

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. Researchers believe Bryde’s whales are one of only a few species of whale that do not migrate long distances.

7. Research shows the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is an important area for mother and calf Bryde’s whales.

8. Population estimates conducted in Auckland suggest the Bryde’s whales have a population of around 140 animals. For this reason they have Nationally Critical status in New Zealand.

9. Bryde’s whales are able to feed on three 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, we usually find Bryde’s whales along with different species of shearwater and petrel feeding on the same food.

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 five minutes before they resurface. This is 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.