Facts about Rice's whale

17 Rice's whale facts

The Gulf of Mexico whale

Rice’s whale was not considered a species until 2021. Even now it is commonly mistaken for Bryde’s whale, with only genetics and anatomy distinguishing both whale species. It is one of the most endangered cetaceans in the world, with no more than 50 individuals alive.

Rice's whale
Rice’s whale was first described in 1965 by Dale Rice.
He cataloged it as a subpopulation of Bryde’s whale present in the Gulf of Mexico.
It was identified as a separate species in 2021.
It was named in recognition of Dale Rice’s discovery of the species.
It is endemic to the northeastern parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
It can be typically spotted at depths of 100 to 500 meters.
A typical male does not exceed 10 meters in length.
The largest male of the species was measured to be 11.26 meters in length.
Females of the species are slightly larger than males.
They can reach a weight of 20 tonnes.
Because Rice’s whale resembles the Bryde’s whale, it is distinguished by its skeletal anatomy and genetics.
It is characterized by a dark gray body with a pinkish throat.
A typical lifespan of a Rice’s whale is 60 years.
Rice’s whales are diurnal.
It is a common trait among all whales.
It feeds primarily on fish, but also on crustaceans, krill, and shrimp.
It is believed its prey of choice is hatchetfish and lanternfish.
Rice’s whales eat approximately 660 kilograms of food a day.
Females give birth to one calf after 11 to 12 months of gestation.
The calf typically weighs approximately 900 kilograms and exceeds three meters in length.
The reproduction takes place every two to three years.
It has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Its population is estimated at 30 to 50 individuals.
Along with vaquita, it is considered one of the most endangered cetaceans.
Rice’s whale is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Enacted in 1972, it prohibits the take and import of marine mammal species.
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