Balaenidae is a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of mysticete whale
Whale is the common name for various marine mammals of the order Cetacea. The term whale sometimes refers to all cetaceans, but more often it excludes dolphins and porpoises, which belong to suborder Odontoceti . This suborder also includes the sperm whale, killer whale, pilot whale, and beluga...

s that contains two living genera. Commonly called the right whales as it contains mainly right whale
Right whale
Right whales are three species of large baleen whales consisting of two genera in the family Balaenidae of order Cetacea. Their bodies are very dark gray or black and rotund....

 species. This name can be confusing, however, since one of the species is the Bowhead Whale
Bowhead Whale
The bowhead whale is a baleen whale of the right whale family Balaenidae in suborder Mysticeti. A stocky dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin, it can grow to in length. This thick-bodied species can weigh to , second only to the blue whale, although the bowhead's maximum length is less than...

, which is different from the right whale
Right whale
Right whales are three species of large baleen whales consisting of two genera in the family Balaenidae of order Cetacea. Their bodies are very dark gray or black and rotund....



Balaenids are large whales, with an average adult length of 15 to 17 metres (45-50 feet), and weighing 50-80 tonnes. Their principle distinguishing feature is their narrow, arched, upper jaw, which gives the animals a deeply curved jawline. This shape allows for especially long baleen
Baleen or whalebone is a filter-feeder system inside the mouths of baleen whales. The baleen system works when a whale opens its mouth underwater and then water pours into the whale's mouth. The whale then pushes the water out, and animals such as krill are filtered by the baleen and remain as food...

 plates. The animals utilise these by floating at or near the surface, and straining food from the water, which they then scrape off the baleen with their tongues - a feeding method that contrasts with those of the rorqual
Rorquals are the largest group of baleen whales, with nine species in two genera. They include the largest animal that has ever lived, the Blue Whale, which can reach , and another that easily reaches ; even the smallest of the group, the Northern Minke Whale, reaches .-Characteristics:Rorquals...

s and the Gray Whale
Gray Whale
The gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus, is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. It reaches a length of about , a weight of , and lives 50–70 years. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin. Gray whales were...

. Their diet consists of small crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s, primarily copepod
Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

s, although some species also eat a significant amount of krill
Krill is the common name given to the order Euphausiacea of shrimp-like marine crustaceans. Also known as euphausiids, these small invertebrates are found in all oceans of the world...


Balaenids are also robustly built by comparison with the rorquals, and lack the grooves along the throat that are distinctive of those animals. They have exceptionally large heads in comparison with their bodies, reaching 40% of the total length in the case of the Bowhead Whale. They have short, broad, flippers, and lack a dorsal fin.

All species are at least somewhat migratory, moving into warmer waters during the winter, during which they both mate and give birth. Gestation
Gestation is the carrying of an embryo or fetus inside a female viviparous animal. Mammals during pregnancy can have one or more gestations at the same time ....

lasts 10–11 months, results in the birth of a single young, and typically occurs once every three years.
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