Mating in right whales

From: Jennifer Philips (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 02:28:06 EDT

My sixth grade students have been reading about right whales. They want to
know exactly how the whales mate. Unfortunately, our school internet
is heavily filtered so I have been unable to find anything that goes beyond
the word mating. I would appreciate any information.

Thank you.

Peggy Bolger
Bridgeport, CT


Peggy and students,

The two forms of right whales - southern (which lives in the south Pacific
and Atlantic oceans) and northern (which lives in the north Pacific and
Atlantic oceans) are both extremely rare in the wild today. Because of that,
there is still we do not know for certain about them, inlcuding a lot about
their mating system. We know that they do have seasonal migrations during
which they move from summer feeding in colder waters to warmer waters for
mating and giving birth. I'm not sure if scientists have ever seen right
whales mating in the wild, though I know that when courtship behavior has
been observed it has been similar to that of other whales. That is, a male
courts a female or more than one female and females mate with more than one
male. To mate, they most likely float at or near the surface and face each
other (so that their belly-sides are touching), and let nature take its

Thank you for your question,
Jen Philips

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