large pectoral flippers and broad tail flukes, but no
dorsal fin. Their head is often covered in white callosities
– small, irregular patches of “callused”
skin which are covered in harmless “whale lice”.
The pattern of callosities is unique to individuals
and allows individual identification, which has been
very useful in establishing population numbers in the
North Atlantic right whale population. Similar to rorqual
whales (such as humpbacks and blue whales), right whales
have baleen, “horny plates” in place of
teeth that are used to sieve out food from the water.
However, they do not have the ventral pleats, the expanding
“accordion” structure – allowing a
rorqual whales to take large mouthfuls of water (and
thus more food) and are, therefore, more closely related
to the grey and bowhead whales.