A Pygmy Right Whale Dissection – 2017

In 2015 a Pygmy Right Whale had washed ashore. Museum Victoria chopped off its head (the rest was too big). Pygmy Right Whales are strange because we don’t know much about them, they are one of the smallest whale families, about 6m long and 2-3 metric tons. They are solitary, live alone, very rarely seen by humans. Thre were seen once in Western Australia, a pod of about 100 going in circles but this sighting and behaviour was never understood.

We are able to dissect this whale in 2017. It was an infant that had recently died. Even before dissecting it we got to look at it and see the hair follicles on its rostrum. It was incredible to look at and have that “click” of, of course it’s a mammal, it has hair. It’s vestigial, they could’ve gotten rid of them but they haven’t. Humpbacks have turbicles but we don’t know what they use them for and these whales do have the follicles. It’s amazing to think of how far these species have come.


This post was adapted from a voice recording in the thirteenth episode of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here

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