(order Cetacea, suborder Mysticeti)
A family that comprises the right and bowhead whales. The body is robust, the snout blunt, the throat ungrooved. A dorsal fin is present in some species. The flippers are broad and short. The posterior margin of the tail is notched at the mid-line. The cervical vertebrae are fused. The baleen plates are long and narrow, and left and right rows are separated anteriorly. The animals are dark grey or black and feed on plankton. Balaena mysticetus (bowhead whale) is confined to northern waters, Caperea (pygmy right whale) to the southern hemisphere, and B. glacialis (right whale) occurs in both hemispheres. They grow to about 6 m (Caperea) or 20 m (Balaena). There are two genera, and three species.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.