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Right whales are the species of large baleen whales belonging to the genus Eubalaena. Three right whale species are recognized in this genus. They are closely related genetically to the larger, arctic Bowhead Whale, which is currently placed in its own genus, Balaena. Over the last two centuries the taxonomy of these species has been in flux, with the right whales often being considered members of the Balaena genus along with the Bowhead. Because of the genetic similarity, all four of these species are included in the taxonomic family Balaenidae, and sometimes all members of this family are referred to as right whales. The Pygmy Right Whale (Capera marginata), a much smaller whale of the Southern Hemisphere, was also included in the Balaenidae family, but has recently been found to be so different as to justify its own family Neobalaenidae. Right whales can grow up to 18 m (59 ft) long and weigh up to 100 tons. Their rotund bodies are mostly black, with distinctive callosities (roughened patches of skin) on their heads. They are called "right whales" because whalers thought the whales were the "right" ones to hunt, as they float when killed and often swim within sight of the shore. Populations were vastly reduced by intensive harvesting during the active years of the whaling industry. Today, instead of hunting them, people often watch these acrobatic whales for pleasure. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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