Diagram of skim feeding right whale: front view
D.D. Tyler
Diagram of skim feeding right whale: front view

Photograph of skim feeding right whale: front view
NOAA Fisheries Service/ Permit No. 775-1600
Photograph of skim feeding right whale: front view

Although most of their feeding takes place at depth (as deep as 600-800 feet), right whales occasionally feed at, or just below, the water’s surface. These enormous animals feed on the smallest of prey, tiny animal plankton called copepods. They push their huge open mouths through the water for hours at a time. This behavior is most commonly observed in Cape Cod Bay and may well have been the fodder for some sea monster stories.

Other interesting right whale behaviors include posturing and surface active groups.

Diagram of skim feeding right whale: side view
D.D. Tyler
Diagram of skim feeding right whale: side view

Photograph of skim feeding right whale: side view
Marilyn Marx/ Center for Coastal Studies
Photograph of skim feeding right whale: side view