Fun Northern Right Whale Dolphin Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Jan 10, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fun Northern Right Whale Dolphin Facts For Kids
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The northern right whale dolphin is a species of dolphin found in the North Pacific ocean. It likes to inhabit the offshore cool, temperate waters near continental shelves.

It is found adjacent to the west coast of North America and the east coast of Asia in countries like the USA, Japan, and Russia.

This marine mammal is a very social animal that lives in groups of 100-200, but also sometimes as big as 3,000. It lives close to 42 years and reproduces by giving birth to live offspring.

The northern right whale dolphin is mostly black and shiny, with white patches and no dorsal fins.

It also does not produce whistles like other dolphins. The northern right whale dolphin species faces multiple threats in the form of entanglement in driftnets in high seas, hunting, ocean noise, and pollution but is still regarded as a species of 'Least Concern' by the IUCN.

For more relatable content, check out these North Atlantic right whale facts and beluga whale facts for kids.

Northern Right Whale Dolphin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern right whale dolphin?

The northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) is a dolphin (mammal, cetacean).

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

The northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) belongs to the 'Mammalia' class of animals.

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

According to the estimation of scientists, there are close to 68,000 northern right whale dolphins existing in the North Pacific Ocean.

Where does a northern right whale dolphin live?

The northern right whale dolphin lives in the Pacific ocean. The habitat range of this marine mammal consists of ocean waters off the North American west coast and the Asian east coast.

The range in North America includes territories from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California. The range in Asia consists of Kamchatka in Russia to Japan. The northern right whale dolphins migrate within their own habitat with changes in seasons.

What is a northern right whale dolphin's habitat?

The northern right whale dolphins inhabit cold as well warm temperate waters in the North Pacific Ocean, from the oceanic regions to the outer continental shelves. These marine mammals are most likely to be seen between 30° and 50° North.

Temperature-wise, they prefer waters below 66.2°F (19°C). They are sometimes found near submarine canyons, but most times they are near the submerged edge of a continent.

Northern right whale dolphins migrate within their own range when seasons change. They go south during the cold northern winter and the autumn months and return back north during the summer months.

Who does the northern right whale dolphin live with?

Northern right whale dolphins are very social mammals and are usually found in groups of 110-200 dolphins, but groups as big as 3,000 have also been observed. These marine mammals are also seen associating with other species like Pacific white-sided dolphins, pilot whales, Dall's porpoise, Risso's dolphin, Baird's beaked whale, humpback whales, and sperm whales.

They are sometimes seen alone too.

How long does a northern right whale dolphin live?

Northern right whale dolphins live for around 42 years, or even longer than that.

How do they reproduce?

The northern right whale dolphin species reproduce by mating and giving birth to live offspring. The gestation period lasts for about a year, so they are able to reproduce every two years. Usually, one calf is born during the summer months of July and August.

The length of the calf at birth is 39.3-41 in (99.8-104.1 cm). Females become sexually mature at the age of 9.7-10.4 years and when they're about 78.7 in (200 cm) in length. Sexual maturity in males comes when they're around 10 years old.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the northern right whale dolphin species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is 'Least Concern'.

Northern Right whale Dolphin Fun Facts

What does the northern right whale dolphin look like?

Northern right whale dolphins have bodies that are streamlined and slick. They look slender and skinny.

They have a white patch on their undersides but are mostly all black. There are two more patches on their bodies, one on the flippers' undersides and another one on the lower jaw. The backs of northern right whales are shiny black and smooth.

The most prominent feature is perhaps the absence of a dorsal fin just like with southern right whale dolphins. They also have sloping foreheads and short beaks. The lower jaws of these marine mammals tend to protrude beyond the upper jaws.

The flippers are slim, pointy, small and so close to the body that it looks like there aren't any flippers at all. They also have small and pointy tails.

Northern right whale dolphins have cone-shaped, sharp, small, and slender teeth that are not visible externally. Both sides of the upper jaw have 37-52 teeth and both sides of the lower jaw have 42-54 teeth. This makes it anywhere between 158-212 teeth in total.

Newborn babies of the northern right whale dolphins are all black and they develop adult coloration when they're a year old. Males of these species tend to be larger than the females.

Dusky dolphin diving in water

*Please note this image is of a Dusky dolphin that belongs to the same family as the Northern Right Whale Dolphin. If you have an image of a Northern Right Whale Dolphin,  please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

Northern right whale dolphins are beautiful, majestic, and adorable creatures. They are black & white, sleek, shiny, and smooth in appearance. They are impressively big and it is quite a sight to see a northern right whale dolphin leap 20 ft (6.1 m) out of the water. They also produce pleasing underwater sounds and are impressively fast swimmers.

How do they communicate?

North right whale dolphins are marine mammals that communicate via pulsed vocalizations and clicks. They do not produce whistles like other dolphins. Burst-pulse series are common with these marine mammals, which are 6-18 single burst-pulse units.

There are eight known burst-pulse units, most of which are sequentially repetitive. Northern right whale dolphins also use echolocation clicks which are greater in frequency and longer than burst-pulse vocalizations. The burst-pulse vocals may play a similar function to the whistles in other dolphins.

How big is the northern right whale dolphin?

Northern right whale dolphins are 6.5-10 ft (2-3 m) in length which makes them 3-10 times bigger than Atlantic mackerels, and 8-15 times smaller than blue whales.

How fast can a northern right whale dolphin swim?

Northern right whale dolphins are really fast swimmers. Their average speed is about 16 mph (25.8 kph) and they can also go as fast as 22 mph (35.4 kph). They can also jump 20 ft (6.1 m) outside the water's surface.

How much does a northern right whale dolphin weigh?

Northern right whale dolphins weigh around 130–250 lb (60-114 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Much like other mammals and dolphins, the males of the northern right whale dolphin species are called 'bulls', and the females are called 'cows'.

What would you call a baby northern right whale dolphin?

A baby northern right whale dolphin would be called a 'calf'.

What do they eat?

Northern right whale dolphins eat mesopelagic squid and fish, so fish that live at depths of 656-3,281 ft (200-1,000 m). They also eat lanternfish, specifically broken-line lanternfishes, Warming's lanternfishes. Abraliopsis felis and Boreopacific armhook squid are also eaten.

They possibly get preyed on by larger sharks and orcas themselves.

Are they poisonous?

No, northern right whale dolphins are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Northern right whale dolphins would most definitely not make good pets. They are huge creatures that roam the free waters of the ocean.

Attempts were made to keep them in captivity but one specimen died within three days and the other after about 15 months. This compared to their 42-year wild lifespan should tell you that they are not meant to be caged.

Did you know...

The false killer whale is a dolphin species named for its similarity to the killer whale. Right whale dolphins, namely the southern right whale dolphin and the northern right whale dolphin are also named for their similarities to the right whales.

One of the interesting southern right whale dolphin facts is that it leaves in the Southern Hemisphere, hence the name. The southern right whale dolphin diet is similar to that of the northern right whale dolphin since they are sister species (Lissodelphis peronii and Lissodelphis borealis respectively).

A social relative species, the Pacific white-sided dolphins are known as hookfin porpoises.

How many northern right whale dolphins are left?

There are an estimated 68,000 northern right whale dolphins left in the North Pacific ocean.

How are they different from regular dolphins?

There are two main differences between northern right whale dolphins and regular dolphins.

Northern right whale dolphins do not have any dorsal fins like regular dolphins do. Also, northern right whale dolphins use burst-pulse vocalizations instead of typical dolphin whistles.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Amazon river dolphin fun facts for kids and bowhead whale interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable cute dolphin cartoon coloring pages.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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