Bryde’s Whale | UPSC

Bryde’s Whale | UPSC


Thai researchers unearth rare Bryde’s whale skeleton

      WHY IN NEWS:

A part of the vertebrae coming out of the ground, were spotted by a cyclist in early November

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : IUCN : Conservation of Flora and Fauna


Thai researchers have unearthed a rare partially fossilised skeleton belonging to a Bryde’s whale believed to be around 5,000 years old at an inland site west of Bangkok.


  • Bryde’s (pronounced “broodus”) whales are members of the baleen whale family.

They are considered one of the “great whales,” or rorquals, a group that also includes blue whales and humpback whales.

  • Bryde’s whales are named for Johan Bryde, a Norwegian who built the first whaling stations in South Africa in the early 20th century.

Bryde’s Whale | UPSC

SOURCES: NOAA | Bryde’s Whale | UPSC 

  • Bryde’s whales are found in warm, temperate oceans including the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.
  • Some populations of Bryde’s whales migrate with the seasons, while others do not migrate, making them unique among other migrating baleen whales.


  • There is not enough information to estimate population trends for the Bryde’s whale species as a whole.
  • Bryde’s whales were once considered monotypic (belonging to one species).

Each taxonomy subspecies has a different geographic distribution, genetic makeup, habitat, and physical appearance. 

Currently, there are two subspecies of Bryde’s.

  • Bryde’s/Eden’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni edeni) is a smaller form found in the Indian and western Pacific oceans, primarily in coastal waters.

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  • The Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni brydei) is a larger form, found primarily in pelagic waters.
  • The Bryde’s whale’s “pygmy form” has only recently been described and is now known as Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai).


  • Currently it is protected under schedule – CITES Appendix II.
  • Since its population is too low ; there is less information on IUCN status.


  • Bryde’s whales look similar to sei whales, but are smaller and prefer warmer waters.
  • Unlike other rorquals, which have a single ridge on their rostrum, Bryde’s whales have three prominent ridges in front of their blowhole.

Their bodies are sleek and their flippers are slender and pointed.  

  • The head of a Bryde’s whale makes up about one quarter of its entire body length.
  • The whales have a broad tail, and a pointed and strongly hooked dorsal fin located about two-thirds back on the body.
  • Bryde’s whales have 40 to 70 throat grooves on their underside that expand while feeding.


  • Bryde’s whales spend most of the day within 50 feet of the water’s surface.
  • They commonly swim at one to four miles per hour, but can reach speeds of 12 to 15 miles per hour.

They dive for about 5 to 15 minutes, with a maximum dive duration of 20 minutes, and can reach depths up to 1,000 feet.

  • Bryde’s whales eat an estimated 1,320 to 1,450 pounds of food per day.

Their diet consists of krill, copepods, red crabs, shrimp, as well as a variety of schooling fishes, such as herring, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines.

  • Bryde’s whales use different methods to feed in the water column, including skimming the surface, lunging, and creating bubble nets.
  • Bryde’s whales can blow water 10 to 13 feet into the air when at the water’s surface. 
  • Bryde’s whales can change directions unexpectedly when swimming.
  • They sometimes generate short, powerful sounds that have low frequencies and sound like “moans.”


  • Bryde’s whales have a wide distribution and occur in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters (61° to 72°F) around the world.
  • They live in all oceans from 40° south to 40° north.

Some populations of Bryde’s whales migrate with the seasons, moving away from the equator during the summer and towards the equator during the winter.

  • Other populations of Bryde’s whales are residents, meaning that they do not migrate.

Bryde’s Whale | UPSC

World map providing approximate representation of the Bryde’s whale range. SOURCES : NOAA.GOV.IN


  • Bryde’s whales become sexually mature at around nine years of age.
  • The peak of the breeding and calving season occurs in autumn, and females give birth to a single calf every two to three years.
  • Pregnancy lasts 10 to 12 months, and calves nurse for about 12 months.


  • VESSEL STRIKES : Accidental vessel strikes can injure or kill Bryde’s whales.

Bryde’s whales are the third most commonly reported species struck by vessels in the southern hemisphere. 

  • OCEAN NOISE : Low-frequency underwater noise pollution can interrupt Bryde’s whales’ normal behavior by hindering their ability to use sound.

That disrupts their ability to communicate, choose mates, find food, avoid predators, and navigate. 

  • WHALING  ACTIVITIES : Whalers have recently hunted Bryde’s whales off the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • Scientists hope the skeleton will provide more information to aid research into Bryde’s whale populations existing today as well as the geological conditions at the time.
     SOURCES:  THE HINDU | Bryde’s Whale | UPSC



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