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North America is one of the world’s best destinations for finding some of the largest whale species in the world. Some of the giant whales in the world inhabit this region.  People from every corner of the globe come to see the gigantic whales in the area. 

Whales inhabit all the oceans globally, and giant whales are the largest animals on Earth.

There are about 90 known species of whales in the world. Each one of the species varies in size, behavior, and distribution. Whales are the most significant and heaviest marine animals, with some species larger than others.

I present the ten most giant whales found in the U.S. and Canada. Whale-watching is an excellent activity in North America; if you get the chance, you may spot one of these species.

Here are the top ten giant whales in North America.

1. Blue Whale

Blue whale

The blue Whale is the enormous Whale that ever lived on Earth and the largest animal. More significant than any dinosaur, the Blue Whale can grow to 100 feet and weigh as much as 150 tonnes. 

Blue whales are found in almost every part of the world, but you can find them in large numbers in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific oceans. 

They migrate from one side to the other during the summer and winter to the lower-latitude wintering. In the U.S., the largest populations are within the Eastern North Pacific. They are referred to as blue whales due to their gray-blue skin. 

Did you know that you can watch blue whales in North America?  Find out where in this article I wrote

2. Fin Whale

The fin whale is considered the second largest Whale in the world. In North America, this Whale can grow as long as 70 feet and weigh up to 95 tonnes. They have unique body shapes, so they are often called the greyhound of the sea. 

It has a streamlined appearance, which makes it easy to move through the water. They are a unique species because of their asymmetrical color. They have a white patch on their lower jaw on the right-hand side. 

Statistics show 2,700 fin whales in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic. There are slightly more in the waters of Oregon, Washington, and California, with a population of approximately 3,200. The entire North Pacific has about 17,000 fin whales. 

Do whales drink seawater?  Find out in this article I wrote

3. Sei Whale

Courtesy of NOAA

This is the third-largest whale species in North America. They are also regarded as the fastest whale species in the world. Sei whales have a streamlined body shape.  They have a dark back and curved fins, allowing them to cut through the water quickly. 

The name sei comes from the Norwegian word ‘see,’ which translates to pollock. This association came about because this whale species and pollock come to the Norwegian coast together. 

In the North Pacific, sei whales can reach 45 feet in length and weigh up to 20 tons. Unlike most mammals, females grow larger than males.

In the North Pacific, there are over 8,600 sei whales. The original population estimate for this area was 42,000. This shows that the current population is just 20% of the original population. 

In U.S. waters, there are no precise statistics about the population of these whales. 

New York is fantastic for watching whales from shore or out at sea.  Please find out the best places in this article I wrote

4. Humpback Whale

The Humpback whale is also known as the big-winged New Englander. The humpback whale is the only species with long pectoral fins. They were initially observed in English waters, but today you can find this species in all parts of the world, with large populations in Europe and America. 

They are also the most-watched Whale in whale-watching trips because of their unique behavior. They are not very streamlined like other whales, but they have an unusual act of breaching.  

Breaching means they jump out of the water, launching most or all of their bodies out of the sea.

Most of the year, these whales will migrate from their homes to Alaska and Hawaii. Humpback whales will usually move up to 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii. They cover this distance in less than two months. 

The main reason why they migrate is that they prefer shallow, warm waters. They like these waters to be near the shore or slightly offshore. Humpback whales also migrate in search of colder waters, which allows them to reproduce.

San Diego is fantastic for watching whales from shore or out at sea.  Please find out the best places in this article I wrote

5. Bowhead Whale

This whale species has high, arched jaws that look like a bow. These jaws are where they get their name. Bowhead whales can reach lengths of up around 49 to 59 feet. Their weight makes them very large marine mammals, weighing 75 to 100 tonnes.

They are usually found in colder waters and have evolved to adapt to survive in these conditions. 

Bowhead whales have a very thick blubber layer that protects against the cold. Their fat is the widest among all sea mammals. Their blubber can be up to 19 inches thick, allowing them to move around cold oceans.

One unique feature of the bowhead whale is the lack of a dorsal fin. They are typically slow swimmers but will increase their speed when escaping danger or searching for food. 

Another interesting fact is regarding their distinctly shaped heads. Bowhead whales use their heads when breaking through ice that has formed on the sea. The bowhead whale is capable of cutting through ice that is up to 23 inches thick. While they are typically gigantic creatures, this animal can breach their entire body out of the water like the humpback whale.

Ever wondered why whales breach? Find out here

6. North Atlantic Right Whale

Courtesy of NOAA

Right whales were all classified as a single species but were later split according to their distribution. 

The North Atlantic right whales usually grow to reach a length of up to 45 to 55 feet long. On average, a mature whale of this kind can weigh up to 70 tons. 

The North Atlantic right whale is very easy to distinguish from other whale species because they have a dorsal fin. They also have a long arching mouths. The mouth begins from directly above the eyes.

People refer to it as the right Whale because it has a slow speed and tends to stay afloat at the top of the water. This makes it easy for hunters to hunt them down. 

They usually spend summer feeding in the cold northern latitudes of Canada and New England. 

The North Atlantic right whale is considered endangered. In previous years, this sea mammal was hunted down in large numbers and, at one time, almost became extinct. 

They fall under the category of baleen whales because they lack teeth. Instead, they have baleen structures that work similarly to a comb. These structures filter all the food from the water that the Whale picks up.

Are you visiting the Olympic Coast?  Find out the best places to watch whales here

7. North Pacific Right Whale

The North Pacific Right Whale is the most vulnerable and rarest North American Whale. Similar to the North Atlantic right whales, this Whale was extensively hunted. 

The North Pacific right whale can grow to lengths of up to 60 feet. On average, this sea mammal species can weigh up to 100 tons. They are baleen whales and use toothlike plates to filter through foods in the water. 

The North Pacific right whale is an endangered marine mammal. The southeastern side of Alaska may only have less than 100 left. 

These whales have been sighted south of Baja, California, and Mexico. They have also been found as far as Hawaii in the north pacific. Although in small populations, they are also easy to spot in the Bering Sea in the summer. They can also be found in Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island. 

Please find out how whales evolved in this article I wrote

8. Sperm Whale

Sperm whale

Sperm whales got their name from spermaceti, an organ inside this animal’s head. This organ produces a white wax-like substance that was assumed by early whalers to be used in reproduction. 

Sperm whales are thought to be the most giant-toothed whales. They have long, pointed teeth, which they use to feed.

Male Sperm whales grow to an average length of up to 65 feet long. Females are smaller, reaching only 39 feet on average. A unique fact about sperm whales is their ability to dive to low depths. They can dive to depths down to 3,000 feet when looking for food. 

Whales have excellent senses. Find out more here

9. Gray Whale

Gray whales are typically large and can grow to lengths of up to 50 feet. A mature gray whale can weigh up to 35 tonnes. Males appear slightly larger than females. The skin of the gray Whale is dark gray with white patches.

Gray whales do not have dorsal fins but instead have a dorsal hump on the end of their back. They also have fat up to 10 inches thick to keep them warm. 

In October, many gray whales migrate toward Mexico’s southern Gulf of California and the Baja peninsula. These are their mating grounds and where the young are born.

Many people think whales are fish, but they are mammals. Find out why in this article I have written.

10. Common Minke Whale

The common minke whale is the smallest of all the North American whales you will come across, but they are still considerable. They can grow up to 20 to 30 feet long. 

The common minke whale is subcategorized into three subspecies. These are the North Atlantic minke, the North Pacific minke, and the dwarf minke. The dwarf minkes are smaller than the other minke whales but attract many tourists in North America for their unique behavior and characteristics.

Whales often swim close to the shore. Find out why here


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Want to know what 10 of the largest animals in North America are?  Find out here