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Brydes Whales – Sardine Run South Africa

Brydes Whales are a common sighting at Sardine Run South Africa

Brydes Whales

(Balaenoptera brydei)

Lets face it, the reason you googled Brydes Whales was because you’re debating with a mate on how to pronounce it. Ha ha ha, haven’t we all. So to put you out of your misery, the pronunciation is: “brew-diz”. Named by Orjan Olsen a Norwegian whaler in the early 1900’s after Johan Bryde. It is said that Johan Bryde was the builder of whaling stations in South Africa.

While you’re here, we’d like to educate you a little more on this majestic whale.

Where to find them:

Their distribution spans around the warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Therefor a great place to see them is at Sardine Run annually.

Brydes Whale, Distribution of a Brydes Whale, Sardine Run, Sardine Run South Africa

What they eat:

Another reason you’ll see Brydes Whales at Sardine Run is that their diet consists of small fish (aka Sardines), herring, mackerel, crustaceans and anchovies. They are known to annihilate entire baitballs in just one gulp, making them a fascinating predator.

How big are they?

The size of them is gigantic, in other words, they grow up to 15m in length (female cetaceans are longer than males) and the weight up to 20 tonnes. They belong to the rorqual group of whales. The largest group of baleen whales. These include Humpback Whales and the largest ocean creature, the Blue Whale. Adding to this calves are born at 4m long.

What about their babies?

The gestation period of a Brydes Whale is estimated to be 1 year. Subsequently allowing them 1 calf per 2 years. Similarly calves are nursed for between 6 and 12 months. Because of this they are very independent. Consequently you’ll see these whales travelling solo. Sexual maturity is reached around 8 to 13 years old. Mating takes place all year round. With this in mind their lifespan has been documented to around 50 years in the wild.

How they look:

They are long and sleek in build. Their dorsal fin is further back than on most whales. Their pectoral fins are disproportionately small for their large bodies. The same goes for their eyes. Furthermore, they are dark grey in colour.


These rorquals are known more for their surface activity. However, they have the most erratic behaviour, changing direction for no apparent reason. They typically dive for around 5 – 15 minutes thus capable of reaching 300m depths. Commonly they are found travelling at around 6km’s per hour however, when threatened can reach speeds of up to 24km’s/h.

References: Wikipedia, softschools.com

Featured Image, Google Images: tes.com

Distribution Image: animalia.bio

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