species: Unidentified whale in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Unidentified whale

©Anne Hoggett: Unidentified whale between Lizard Island and Eagle Island, 27 Dec 2012.

©Anne Hoggett: Enlargement of Unidentified whale between Lizard Island and Eagle Island, 27 Dec 2012.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Cetacea
Family Balaenopteridae
Species Unidentified whale

Distinguishing features

Whale estimated at about 8 metres long with a tall, hooked dorsal fin. It surfaced once near a boat in the late afternoon on 27 Dec 2012.

Sightings are rare of large whales in summer in this area but they do occur. This is the only photo of such a whale to our knowledge (Jul 2020).

Humpback Whales and Dwarf Minke Whales are often seen in winter. This does not appear to be either of those species. The dorsal fin is quite different in Humpback Whales. Dwarf Minkes are similar size but bright white patches on their pectoral fins are usually visible when seen on the surface. A possible identification is a small Bryde's Whale, Balaenoptera edeni. That species has a similar dorsal fin, grows to 14 metres, and is found world-wide in water that is warmer than 14 degrees Celsius (Baker, 1983).


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Baker, A.N. (1983). Whales and Dolphins of New Zealand and Australia: An identification guide Victoria University Press, Wellington, NZ.