About Whales: Interesting Facts About Whales

about whales

Whales are fascinating creatures; you can learn everything that you need to know about their characteristics, behaviours and find plenty more intriguing facts on this site. 

General Information

A Whale is the largest animal that has ever lived on this planet; the biggest one that exists is called the giant blue whale.  This particular whale can grow between 90-100 feet length wise and weighs a whopping 120-150 tons.  The second biggest animal seen on earth is the Finback whale and has been spotted quite often by humans. Whales in general are incredibly sociable creatures and usually travel in a group, or else a school that is known as a “pod” or a “gam”.

Contrary to popular belief, Whales are not classified as fish and belong to the mammal group just like human beings.  This means that they breathe in the air, have warm blood and produce offspring, as well as nurse their young babies with milk exactly like female human beings. 

Structure

Whale’s bodies are designed for sea life.  They have incredibly flexible and soft bones, which makes them light weight and not too sturdy for their overall body size.  This is a fascinating fact as we expect a creature of that size to be extremely strong.  Whales have bones inside their neck that are attached together; this gives them support, although they cannot turn their heads around. 

Vision & Hearing

Whales cannot see what is happening in front, unlike human beings. In addition, they can see better inside the water than they can in the air.  Whales have lubricated tears that safeguard their eyes when they dive below five hundred feet. 

Whales can hear exceptionally well inside the water despite the fact that they do not have any ears outside. Similar to how humans utilise their arms, feet and legs, whales use their flippers to steer and to gain balance.  A whale has a couple of flukes instead of a tail, which are level and they move upwards and downwards in contrast to a fish whose fins move from side to side.  Their flukes work as propellers. 

Breathing

whale spout

Whales breathe air and are capable of staying under water for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.  However, they can remain under water for over an hour if they feel afraid, or are wounded. When a whale returns to the surface, it will breathe or "spout", which is a carbon dioxide gas combined with a warm water vapour.  This kind of breath is remarkably similar to our own breath on a cold winter’s day; it is also like a water fountain.

Whale Categories

"Toothed" whales are the biggest group when it comes to numbers: nevertheless, they are a lot smaller compared to the “baleen” group of whales.  Toothed whales eat fish and other large creatures that you find in the sea.  A distinctive characteristic of this type of whale is a sole blowhole that you will find on top of its head.  You will only find one kind of toothed whale - the sperm whale, which grows to a huge size.  There are plenty of folk tales about this particular whale, like Moby Dick.

A “baleen” whale is bigger than a toothed whale, although there are not as may around.  The characteristics of this type of whale are a pair of blowholes and a gigantic mouth.  Baleens eat via a process known as “krill”, which involves filtering their food through immense layers of tissue.  They tend to swim with their mouths wide open, which ends up filling up with water. The krill gets screened inside their mouths whilst the water gets forced out.  The growth of krill is dependent on the season, and as a result, a baleen whale will travel to locations where there is an abundant supply of food. 

You can find out more about different types of whales here.

The only enemy of a whale is a human being, who is known to hunt them for the blubber that they have, which gets converted into a lamp oil.  Nowadays whales are hunted for things like cooking fats, facial creams as well as explosives.  Even though, whale hunting has been banned, there are people who continue to kill them. 

Diet

A whale’s diet is dependent on the type of species it is; it ranges from tiny plankton all the way to gigantic sea mammals. 

Whale Population & Range

The population of whales can be found in oceans all over the world, although they range according to their species.

Behaviours

Most whales, particularly baleen whales have a tendency to migrate some lengthy distances ranging from cold water feeding areas to warm water temperatures where they breed.  They will travel on their own, or in a group during their migration time every year.  A toothed whale generally hunts and migrates as part of a group, and also shares the responsibilities of looking after off spring. 

The majority of whales are fairly active when they are inside the water.  They tend to jump exceptionally high, or breach outside of the sea, and then end up landing back inside the ocean.  They propel their tails outside of the sea and slap the surface of the water, which tends to be a warning signal of a hazard close by.  Whales converse with one another by utilising poetic sounds that are extremely loud and can be heard for miles. 

Due to their surroundings as well as the necessity to breathe in air via the surface, they are extremely mindful breathers, which means that they choose when they want to breathe. All different types of mammals need to sleep, as well as whales, although they do not have the luxury of falling into an unconscious state for a lengthy time periods because they need to be aware of breaking the surface to take a breath.

Breeding

The breeding season varies and is dependent on the type of whale species.  Usually, a whale gestates for around 9 to 15 months and produces one off spring.  The nurturing time lasts longer than a year for most species and is connected with the strong bond that there is between the mother and baby.  This type of breeding method reproduces a small number of off spring, however, it offers each new born with a high chance of surviving in the wild. 

Dangers to Whales

The effect of global warming can be felt by all creatures of the sea, and whales are not an exception.  Rising sea levels and changes in temperature means that they are vulnerable, and might not have the capacity to adapt quick enough in order to survive. Whales in the Arctic and Antarctic especially face some threats from temperature changes. Their sources of food supply will face many challenges too, like a reduction in the population of krill, which is the predominant source of food for most larger species of whales

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