What Color Are Whales?

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: February 27, 2023
© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

Today, our oceans are home to over 90 different species of whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans. While many whale species can be grouped with dolphins and porpoises, we will concentrate on the colors of various species in this article, including baleen whales, toothed whales, and even the beluga whale. Let’s examine the colors of these types of whales in more detail.

Baleen Whales

what do whales eat - gray whale baleen
Baleen Whale

©jo Crebbin/Shutterstock.com

Baleen whales are carnivorous whales that use a filter-feeding system in their mouths in order to eat planktonic creatures from the ocean. The mechanism in their mouths is known as the keratinaceous baleen plate or the whalebone. While this group of whales has many different varieties in size, they also have a variety in color. For instance, the humpback whale, which is known for its large, bumpy gray body, is in this group, as is the largest animal to ever exist, the blue whale.

Only The Top 1% Can Ace our Animal Quizzes

Think You Can?

Blue Whales

blue whale
Blue whale

©Andrew Sutton/Shutterstock.com

The largest animal to have ever lived on Earth is a species of whale, also known as the Pygmy blue whale or Arctic blue whale. Even though they are very large, they are known as the gentle giants of the sea. Although their name clearly denotes their distinctive color, blue whales are not always blue. While the undersides of their bellies are frequently extremely pale in contrast, some blue whales really have a mix of gray on their backs. These whales have a variegated blue tint, which makes them blend in with the ocean beautifully; they almost pass for camouflage until you realize their enormous size!

Humpback Whales

Mysterious Gray Animals - whale
Humpback Whale


The size of the humpback whale’s enormous flippers is one of the reasons why it is frequently thought of as a very huge species of whale. When these whales come into contact with people, they are sometimes portrayed as friendly and curious because of how they move and make sounds. They have also been dubbed “friends of the sea” in numerous media and films. The undersides of their flippers and bellies are almost completely white, but the rest of their bodies are very dark, often gray to black.

Toothed Whales

Squalodontidae Family
Toothed Whale

©Nobu Tamura / CC BY 3.0 – License

Although the toothed whale species have teeth, they do not have a filtering system like baleen whales. These whales come in a variety of sizes, hues, temperaments, and geographic distributions. The orca is one of these whales that may eat other aquatic creatures in addition to fish and squid. These animals not only have excellent hearing for both air and water but also have a thick layer of blubber that keeps them warm in frigid oceans. They often have two flippers attached to their slender bodies. Let’s examine the color differences between two of the most well-known toothed whale species.

Killer Whales

Fastest Sea Animal: Killer Whale
The Orca or Killer Whale

©Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock.com

Also known as Orcas, these whales are widely known not only for their distinct colors and patterns but for their aggressive nature as well. Unlike the other toothed whales in this genus, its species are known to eat other marine animals. This is how it got the name “predators of the sea.” While orcas frequently eat fish, squid, and seals as prey, they have also been known to attack dolphins, certain sharks, and even whales that are considerably larger than themselves.

Due to their dorsal fins, which protrude just above the water’s surface, these whales are sometimes mistaken for sharks by humans; however, if you see their distinctive pigmentation, they are simple to distinguish. Black in hue, orcas have dazzling white bellies and two noticeable white patches next to their eyes. These whales stand out significantly from other whales thanks to their patterns and colors.

Beluga Whales

Animals That Use Sonar-Beluga whale
Beluga Whale

©CampCrazy Photography/Shutterstock.com

Considering how noisy they are, beluga whales are sometimes referred to as “canaries of the sea.” These whales like singing, mainly because it helps them alert neighboring marine life—such as other whales—to their presence. They are also one of the two whale species whose facial expressions may vary in response to sound. The color of this type of whale is interesting and different from the colors of other whales. They also have different personalities and traits. When beluga whales are born, their coats are dark gray. As they get older, their colors change to blue or brown. These whales will become completely white once they reach the age of five to twelve. Because they are so white in color, some belugas can appear almost yellow due to the algae growing on them.

In Conclusion

All of these whales are distinctive in their traits and looks. It should not be difficult for someone to adore these magnificent marine species that have blessed our oceans. The next time you enjoy your time by the sea and see one of these amazing creatures, make sure to stop and admire them for all that they are!

Up Next:

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Apex predator: Killer whales
Orcas are considered an apex predator.
© slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.