Bryde’s Whales

Bryde’s Whales

Baleen Whale
  • Wednesday, 05 March 2014
  • Jeanette

They are named after a Norwegian, John Bryde, who, in 1912, financed the first scientific investigation of whales in South African waters.

The most distinctive external character from other baleen whales is the presence of three prominent ridges on the head that run from the tip of the snout . The top of the head is broad and flat.

The dorsal fin is about 45 cm long, sickle-shaped and with a pointed tip.

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Bryde’s whales do not gather in large groups, usually seen singly or in groups of 2-3.

In this area they are inshore, within 20miles from the coast and is seen throughout the year.

It is common to see Bryde’s whales feeding in patches of sardines or anchovy,  especially in summer.

They consume about. 600kg per day.

Bryde’s Whales move slow, 2- 7 km/ph but can swim as fast as 20-25km/hr.

Like other baleen whales, they have 2 blowholes . Their spout is 3-4m high.

Bryde’s whales produce short,powerful low frequency moaning sounds.


  • Flukes:     Commonly arches its tail stock before diving. Flukes are elongate with a notch in the middle. Does not raise flukes.
  • Dorsal fin:     Prominent dorsal fin is set about three-quarters back along the body and has a very arched trailing edge
  • Flippers:     Slender and comparatively small, smokey grey above and below
  • Shape of head:     Broad and flattened, narrow in profile. The top of the head has 3 parallel ridges (other rorqual whales have 1)
  • Body:     Streamlined body is long, back and flanks are smokey grey. Underside ranges from white or pale yellow on throat to blue-grey or creamy grey near vent
  • Blow:     Tall, narrow blow up to 4m high
  • Group size:     Found singly, in pairs or in small pods of up to 7. As many as 30 may gather on good feeding grounds
  • Behaviour:     An erratic swimmer, at the surface its sudden changes in direction are like those of a large dolphin. Can be very acrobatic, breaching near vertically several times in a row. When undisturbed, dives of 1-8 minutes are often followed by 4-7 blows

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