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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

17 Incredible Southern Right Whale Dolphin Facts

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin facts about a mammal that it breathes through its blowhole, coming up to the surface for air.

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) is a mammal found in the pelagic water of the Southern Hemisphere. It lives in the cool, marine, and offshore Subantarctic waters. It is native to Antarctica and is also seen in the offshore waters of the Southern parts of the continents of South America, Africa, Australia. It weighs about 132-221 lb (60–100 kg) and is 70-117 in (1.8-2.9 m) long. Their diet consists of fish that live 200-1000 m deep i.e. mesopelagic fish. Individual dolphins are known to dive for 10-75 seconds at a time. Southern Right Whale Dolphins live in herds of 210 individuals, but this number goes up to 1000. They have beautiful black and white bodies and their skin is very smooth. It is not on the IUCN red list of threatened species, it is instead classified as a species of Least Concern. Read on to learn about this amazing aquatic mammal.

You may also enjoy our articles on the common dolphin and Amazon River dolphin.

Southern Right Whale Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a southern right whale dolphin?

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) is a dolphin (cetacean, mammal).

What class of animal does a southern right whale dolphin belong to?

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) belongs to the cetacean (aquatic mammal) class of animals.

How many southern right whale dolphins are there in the world?

The exact number is unknown, but since it is classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. There are more than 10,000 mature individuals of the Southern Right Whale Dolphins in the world.

The population of the Southern Right Whale Dolphin hasn't been estimated, but the population of the Northern Right Whale Dolphin has been estimated to be around 68,000 in the Pacific Ocean.

Where does a southern right whale dolphin live?

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii) lives in the ocean. You can find it in the waters around Antarctica, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southern Africa. The geographic range for the Southern Right Whale Dolphins is said to include the sub-Antarctic waters. More precisely, they harbor the sub-antarctic waters amid 30°S and 65°S. Southern Right Whale Dolphins exist in the cool temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere. And the Northern Right Whale Dolphins exist in the cool temperate waters of the Northern Hemisphere, mainly the North Pacific Ocean.

What is a southern right whale dolphin's habitat?

A Southern Right Whale Dolphin is a pelagic creature, i.e. it lives in the open ocean. They are known to occupy cool waters, at temperatures of 46-66 degrees Fahrenheit. Southern Right Whale Dolphins live deep offshore. They are known to dive 200 m deep for feed.

Who do southern right whale dolphins live with?

Southern Right Whale Dolphins live in herds of an average of 250 other dolphins. They are also known to live in herds of about 1000 individuals. Its behavior also includes socialization with other groups of different species.

How long does a southern right whale dolphin live?

It is unclear how long the Southern Right Whale Dolphin lives, but its close relative the Northern Right Whale dolphin is known to live around 42 years. Southern Right Whale Dolphins may live a similar amount of time. A Southern Right Whale Dolphin does not do great in captivity, and like other Dolphins, it may live for only about 1-15 months.

How do they reproduce?

The Southern Right Whale Dolphins reproduce by mating. The males of the species reach reproductive capability at length 212-220 cm and females at 206-212 cm. Not much is known about the reproductive rituals of the Southern Right Whale Dolphin.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of the Southern Right Whale Dolphin is Least Concern. It is not on their list of threatened species.

Southern Right Whale Dolphin Fun Facts

What do southern right whale dolphins look like?

The Southern Right Whale Dolphin is a truly beautiful dolphin. Its length ranges from 70-117 in (1.8 – 2.9 m) and two colors dominate its appearance - black and white. The lower side of their body is white and the upper side is black. The two colors meet on its sides with the black dominating the curve that runs around its head. The anterior melon, the beak, and the flippers are white, and its tail or fluke is gray. They have a blowhole and 39-50 teeth in a row, or 78-100 teeth in total. Variations are also seen, with there being white spots on a dolphin's head and the amount of black and white on its body. The Southern Right Whale Dolphins are known to not have any dorsal fins, which is specified by its genus name 'Lissodelphis'. Also, its skin is very smooth.

The Southern Right Whale is known for not having a dorsal fin.
*Please note this is a northern right whale dolphin. If you have an image of a southern right whale dolphin, let us know at [email protected]

How cute are they?

Southern Right Whale Dolphins are very cute animals. They have strikingly beautiful black and white bodies in perfectly drawn curves. They dice gracefully in and out of the water and produce beautiful vocalizations. They have smooth skins and the sight of their big herds swimming in the ocean is a sight to behold.

How do they communicate?

Southern Right Whale Dolphins are known to use echolocation to locate another of their species. They may also use clicks and whistles.

How big is a southern right whale dolphin?

A Southern Right Whale Dolphin is about 70-117 in (1.8–2.9 m) long. This makes them four times bigger than the grass carp.

How fast can a southern right whale dolphin swim?

Southern Right Whale Dolphins are known to be fast swimmers. They have been reported to have swimming speeds close to 14 mph (22 kmph).

How much does a southern right whale dolphin weigh?

A Southern Right Whale Dolphin weighs about 132-221 lb (60–100 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

As with other dolphins and mammals, the males of the Souther Whale Dolphin species are called bulls, and the females are called cows.

What would you call a baby southern right whale dolphin?

A baby Southern Right Whale Dolphin is called a calf.

What do they eat?

Southern Right Whale Dolphins eat mesopelagic fish, i.e. fish live at depths 200-1000 m. They eat squid, lanternfish, bigeye tuna, and mollusks.

Conversely, there have been no records of Southern Right Whale Dolphin predators, but the most likely can be assumed to be killer whales, sleeper sharks, and Patagonian toothfish.

Are they dangerous?

Human interaction with Southern Right Whale Dolphins has been limited, but they are creatures of the wild, so they may display aggression.

Would they make a good pet?

They would not make a good pet. They are free-roaming mammals that live at great offshore lengths. They are sizeable creatures and like living with their herd of whale dolphins.

Did you know...

Southern Right Whales belong to the big family of marine mammals. Seals, manatees, whales, sea otters, and polar bears are all marine mammals as well. The marine mammal family is a rather informal group. Around 23% of the marine mammal species are considered to be under threat of extinction.

No confirmed records of the species in the Eastern South Pacific exist. There are few records of this species from the Eastern South Pacific Ocean, but the existence of Lissodelphis peronii off Namibia has been documented. And as for Lissodelphis borealis, Peale was the first explorer to describe it. Titian Peale described the species in 1848.

The waters off the coast of South Africa have witnessed a single sighting of the Southern Right Whale Dolphin. Also, the west coast of South Africa has not had any occurrences of 'bycatching' of these dolphins.

One of the first records of the Southern Right Whale Dolphin was in New Zealand. The species is occasionally seen in Kaikoura, a town on South Island, New Zealand.

The most recent observations of dolphin sightings were in Mahia Beach on the North Island of  New Zealand.

The Northern and the Southern Right Whale Dolphins don't feature on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Before being declared as a species of Least Concern, they were listed as Data Deficient.

Southern Right Whale Dolphins are known to indulge in belly-flopping and side-slapping. The belly-flopping, much like other whales, has been known to be loud.

Why are they called southern right whale dolphins?

The Southern Right Whales got their name from the whalers of old that used to hunt them. According to them, they were the 'right whales' to pursue and hunt, since they moved slow, floated after being killed, and were closer to the shores. The 'Southern' was used for the 'right whales' that lived in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere.

The Southern Right Whale Dolphins, in turn, get their name from the Southern Right Whales, who also don't have a dorsal fin.

Do the southern right whale dolphins have teeth?

The Southern Right Whales Dolphins have 78-100 teeth in total (39-50 teeth in each row). The Northern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) is the other species of the Right Whale Dolphins family. Northern Right Whale Dolphins are found in the North Pacific Ocean waters of the North. One difference between Southern Right Whale Dolphins (Lissodelphis peronii) and the Northern Right Whale Dolphins (Lissodelphis borealis) is the number of teeth they have. The Northern Right Whale has 37-54 per row and the Southern Right Whale has 39-50 per row. Both of them are marine mammals though, and both don't have a dorsal fin.

The Southern Right Whales, from whom these dolphins get their name, do not have teeth, they instead possess something called baleen, a comb-like tissue to filter their food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Weddell seal interesting facts and white-tailed deer facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable southern right whale dolphin coloring pages.

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