Southern right whales

Southern right whale ( Ebalaena australis)

Southern right whale

Identifying features

  • Presence of callosities – rough, white patches – around the head
  • Dorsal fin absent
  • Square pectoral fins

Body length

Maximum 17 m


  • Individuals have often been observed milling behind the surf break
  • This species typically migrates from west to east during the cooler months
  • Individuals can be identified from the pattern of callosities on and around the head.
  • Callosites are hardened skin that are inhabited by cyamids aka whale lice

Less than 270 individual southern right whales inhabit Victorian waters. Consequently, the species is considered to be critically endangered in Victorian waters.

How can you help with southern right whale science?

Quality photographs of the callosities of individual whales are incredibly important to southern right whale scientists. Images taken, while adhering to the Victorian wildlife (marine mammal) regulations, can be contributed to WhaleFace, the southern right whale south-eastern Australia monitoring project.

WhaleFace is the main repository for southern right whales images and data in Victorian waters and is overseen directly by DELWP cetacean scientists.

Further information

Further information about southern right whales in Victorian waters can be found here and on this fact sheet.