June 13, 2013, 7:24 pm
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Sei whale. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A Rorqual is one of eight or nine species of whale within the familiy of Balaenopteridae (marine mammals within the order of cetaceans):

  1. Humpback whale - Megaptera novaeangliae
  2. Northern Minke whale (Common Minke whale) - Balaenoptera acutorostrata
  3. Antarctic Minke whale - Balaenoptera bonaerensis
  4. Sei whale - Balaenoptera borealis
  5. Bryde's whale - Balaenoptera brydei
  6. Omurai's whale - Balaenoptera omurai
  7. - Eden's whale  - Balaenoptera edeni (possible subspecies)
  8. Fin whale - Balaenoptera physalus
  9. Blue whale - Balaenoptera musculus


Conservation Status


Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:--- Chordata
Class:------ Mammalia
Order:-------- Cetacea
Family:-------- Balaenopteridae

These nine taxa are large whales. The Blue whale is thought to be the largest animal ever to have existed on the planet, almost as big as a  Boeing 737 airplane, and even larger than the greatest dinosaurs. A Blue whale attains a body mass of up to 190,000 kilograms (as much as forty African elephants). 


Rorquals are baleen whales, meaning that instead of teeth, they have long plates which hang in a row (like the teeth of a comb) from its upper jaws. Baleen plates are strong and flexible; they are made of a protein similar to human fingernails.  Baleen plates are broad at the base (gumline) and taper into a fringe which forms a curtain or mat inside the whale's mouth. Baleen whales strain huge volumes of ocean water through their baleen plates to capture food: tons of krill, other zooplankton, crustaceans, and small fish.

Species detail

Articles on individual species are available on the Encyclopedia of Earth. The reader can click on individual species set forth above  for details.

Further Reading

  • Bruyns, W.F.J.M., (1971). Field guide of whales and dolphins. Amsterdam: Publishing Company Tors.
  • Andersen, M. and Kinze, C. C. 1993. The Brydes whale Balaenoptera edeni Anderson 1878: its distribution in Thai waters with remarks on osteology. 10th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals.
  • Anderson, J. 1879. Anatomical and Zoological Researches: Comprising an Account of Zoological Results of the Two Expeditions to Western Yunnan in 1868 and 1875; and a Monograph of the Two Cetacean Genera, Platanista and Orcella. Bernard Quaritch, London, UK.
  • Anderson, R. C. 2005. Observations of cetaceans in the Maldives, 1990-2002. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 7(2): 119-135.
  • Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E. (ed.), (1997). The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]
  • Jefferson, T.A., Leatherwood, S. & Webber, M.A., (1994). FAO species identification guide. Marine mammals of the world. Rome: United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Saundry, P. (2013). Rorqual. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/166602


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