right whale


Definition of right whale 

: any of several large baleen whales (family Balaenidae and especially genus Eubalaena) that lack a dorsal fin and have very long baleen plates, an extremely large head with a V-shaped blowhole, a smooth throat, short, broad, rounded flippers, and whitish protuberances of thickened skin about the head

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Illustration of right whale

Examples of right whale in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remain, including just over 100 breeding females. Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post, "These whales will be extinct in 25 years, scientists say — unless we act now to save them," 20 Apr. 2018 According to a press release, ecologists believed that the Mediterranean was outside the historical range of gray and right whales. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Romans May Have Hunted Whales to Extinction in Their Home Waters," 11 July 2018 The request is designed to help reduce ship strikes, which are one of the major causes of death for right whales. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "New England news in brief," 26 Apr. 2018 Gray whales are only found in the Pacific Ocean these days, and the few remaining North Atlantic right whales hang out along the coast of the U.S. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Romans May Have Hunted Whales to Extinction in Their Home Waters," 11 July 2018 Out of San Francisco, the Ocean Society made a trip to the Farallon Islands and sighted 15 humpback whales, five blue whales, one minke whale, 70 Risso’s dolphins, five northern right whale dolphins, and 80 Pacific white-sided dolphins. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "Chart-buster times: salmon to whales, bears to bighorns," 8 July 2018 The North Atlantic right whale, for example, reaches over 50 feet in length and is one of the most endangered cetaceans on the planet. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "Today’s Whales Are Huge, But Why Aren’t They Huger?," 27 June 2018 Federal authorities have extended a ban on trap gear closures for part of Cape Cod Bay to reduce the risk of right whales becoming entangled in trap gear. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "TPW Commission reconsidering its approval of air-powered guns, bows," 6 May 2018 Last year, 17 right whales died — and that’s just those that researchers know of, Mayo said. Laney Ruckstuhl, BostonGlobe.com, "Vessels off Boston asked to slow down after right whale sightings," 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'right whale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of right whale

1725, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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The first known use of right whale was in 1725

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