Southern right whale, Golfo Nuevo, Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
© Gabriel Rojo/Minden Picture
Southern right whale, Argentina
Southern right whales are a subspecies of right whale that inhabit the oceans below the equator, spending winters in warmer waters closer to the equator and summers feeding in the far south. The end of September in the Southern Hemisphere means warmer weather and the nearing of summer. For southern right whales like this one off the coast of Argentina, this means a transit southward toward Antarctica and rich feeding grounds. They feed on krill at the surface of the water, holding their mouths open as they swim through swarms of the tiny crustaceans.
Right whales are easily identifiable by the thick white calluses on their heads. They tend to be social and curious creatures and have been known to have close encounters with humans. The whale featured today surfaced off the Valdes Peninsula, home to the largest breeding population in the world, and a fitting location for the Southern Whale Natural Monument, created in 1984. In these protected waters, thousands of whales will mate and give birth, staying until October or November, when they will begin their great migration south.