With nine species, rorquals are the largest family of baleen whales. They feed by gulping large quantities of water and straining crustaceans and fish through short, broad baleen plates. Rorquals range from the blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived, to the relatively small nine tonne minke whale. All rorqual whales have deep longitudinal grooves in the skin running from the throat to the chest. Populations were reduced by whaling to the extent that most species are now fully protected. They are usually seen in pods of between two and five individuals. Rorqual whales are distributed worldwide and, with a couple of exceptions, live in the open ocean.
Scientific name: Balaenidae
The following habitats are found across the Rorqual family distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.
Rorquals /ˈrɔrkwəl/ (family Balaenopteridae) are the largest group of baleen whales, with nine extant species in two genera. They include the largest animal that has ever lived, the blue whale, which can reach 180 tonnes (200 short tons), and the fin whale, which reaches 120 tonnes (130 short tons); even the smallest of the group, the northern minke whale, reaches 9 tonnes (9.9 short tons).
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