Bryde's whale

Balaenoptera edeni

12 - 14m



Dorsal fin

The Bryde’s whale (pronounced ‘broo-does’) appears mottled in skin colouration with a slender body and blue-grey in colour. This species is very similar to the sei and fin whale, but three media ridges on the rostrum are diagnostic. Unlike the fin whale, both sides of the lower jaw are the same colour. 

Key features

  • Small, weak blow ~3m high 
  • Upright, sickle-shaped dorsal fin 
  • Three parallel ridges on the rostrum 
  • Arches tailstock without fluking 


Bryde’s whales are typically seen alone, particularly when feeding. They are sometimes inquisitive and may approach boats. It has an irregular breathing pattern and will often blow quickly before diving. When surfacing between dives, the Bryde’s whale rarely shows more than the top of its head.


It is believed Bryde’s whales used to be hunted, and in 2000 the Japanese whalers started hunting them again for ‘scientific research’. Bryde’s whales are also threatened by noise and chemical pollution.


Unlike most baleen whales, Bryde’s whales spend the whole year in tropical and subtropical waters, preferring waters that are over 20°C. They only make short migrations or none at all and rarely visit temperate or cold waters. There are separate inshore and offshore populations in other parts of the world differing slightly in appearance and behaviour.

Study whales and dolphins as an ORCA OceanWatcher

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