Nature conservation

Threatened species

Southern Right Whale - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Eubalaena australis
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Gazetted date: 04 May 2012
Profile last updated: 31 Mar 2023


A large marine mammal up to 18 m long. It has a black body with white rough patches on the head and lower jaw to which whale lice and barnacles attach. Southern Right Whales lack a dorsal (back) fin and has two completely separate blowholes and a V shaped blow.


Temperate and subpolar waters of the Southern Hemisphere, with a circumpolar distribution between about 20°S and 55°S with some records further south to 63°S.

Habitat and ecology

  • Migrate between summer feeding grounds in Antarctica and winter breeding grounds around the coasts of southern Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.
  • They feed in the open ocean in summer.
  • They move inshore in winter for calving and mating. Calving females and females with young usually remain very close to the coast, paticularly in the 5-10 m watermark.
  • They feed on krill and copepods by filtering water through their baleen (plates of keratin that hang inside their upper-jaw).
  • It appears Southern Right Whales may not feed at all in Australian waters.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region