Sunday, July 24, 2016
Facts about Whales
Whales are the biggest creatures on Earth.
There are four distinct species of whales that scientists have come up with to identify them. While there are plenty of subgroups and breakdowns within them, this gives us a basic framework for the process.
Types of Whales
Blue Whale: The Blue Whale belongs to the baleen category. Blue Whales are very large whales that can measure up to 108 feet and weight about 190 tons.
Gray Whale: The Gray Whale is one that people seem to be able to identify when they are looking into the ocean. They have some characteristics that make them quite familiar in various ways.
Fin Whale: The Fin Whale is the second largest animal in the world, and that is no small accomplishment. You have likely heard them called the razorback which is a common nickname.
Humpback Whale: The Humpback Whale is one of the most recognized of them all because of the hump over the dorsal fin.
Minke Whale: The smallest of the baleen category is the Minke Whale. They are not likely to be more than 30 feet long or to weigh more than 7 tons.
Narwhal Whale: One type of toothed whale is the Narwhal Whale. It fits in about the mid range when it comes to sizes of whales.
Pilot Whale: Pilot Whales are dark black in color most of the time. Some of them are a dark gray. There are two species of the Pilot whale, but it is often very hard to tell them apart.
Right Whale: There is no denying the sheer size of the Right Whale. They can weigh up to 100 tons as well as be up to 60 feet long.
Sperm Whale: The Sperm Whale is the largest of all toothed whales, and many people immediately think of the story of Moby Dick when they see one.
Beluga Whale: The Beluga Whale offers a whitish color and you will notice it has a type of formation to the head that is sticking out somewhat.
Bowhead Whale: Today the Bowhead Whale is also called with several other names including Greenland right whale, Arctic whale, polar whale, steeple-top and Russian whale.
Facts about Whales
Blue whales are pregnant for 10-12 months. The newborn calf is about 7.5 meters long and weighs about 5.5 – 7.3 tons. A baby blue whale drinks about 225 liters (about enough to fill a bath) of its mother’s fat-laden milk (it is 40-50% fat) a day, gaining 3.7 kilograms an hour, until at age 8 months they are 15 meters long and 22.5 tones! The mother and calf may stay together for a year or longer, until the calf is about 13 meters long. Blue whales reach maturity at 10-15 years.
are also champion divers. Adults can stay underwater for almost two hours and dive to depths of 2,000 meters or more. They eat squid, which can live very deep in the ocean, so sperm whales have to dive down into the deepest parts of the sea to catch them.
The huge head, which is up to a third of its overall body length, houses the heaviest brain in the animal kingdom - up to 9kg. The head also consists of a cavity large enough to park a car inside that contains a yellowish wax called spermaceti that was much sought after by whalers.
The , which lives exclusively in the Arctic, has the thickest blubber of all whales. It can reach a whopping 70cm in thickness. These whales also have the longest – the comb-like structures hanging down from their upper jaws used as a sieve to filter food from the sea-water. These baleen plates can reach up to 5 meters in length.
The male has two teeth. The left one pierces the animal’s lip and grows to an incredible 2 to 3 meters. In Europe, these tusks were once sold as the horns of the mythical unicorn.
The North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales are among the most endangered of all whales. Only around 400-500 individuals currently exist with fewer than 100 North Pacific right whales remaining. The Western Pacific gray whale may be down to the last 150 individuals but perhaps the most endangered whale lives in the Gulf of Mexico. Here, a genetically distinct population of has recently been discovered that may have fewer than 50 individuals remaining.
In the wild whales live for a long time - generally the larger species living longest. spend their lives in cold Arctic waters. They may be the world’s oldest mammals and are the longest lived of all whales – possibly over 200 years.
are known as the "canaries of the sea" because they make chirping sounds like the little yellow birds.
are the loudest creatures on Earth! Their call reaches levels up to 188 decibels and can be heard hundreds of miles away. The blue whale is louder than a jet, which reaches only 140 decibels. Sounds over 120-130 decibels are painful to human ears.
Male sing the most complex songs and have long, varied, eerie, and beautiful songs that include recognizable sequences of squeaks, grunts, and other sounds. The songs have the largest range of frequencies used by whales, ranging from 20-9,000 hertz. Only male humpback whales have been recorded singing. They sing these complex songs only in warm waters where they breed and give birth. In cold waters, they make rougher sounds, scrapes and groans, perhaps used for locating large masses of krill (the tiny crustaceans that they eat).
The that feed in Antarctic waters and swim north to breed off the coasts of Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica make one of the longest confirmed migration of any mammal.
also migrate huge distances and some may even rival the humpback for distance travelled. Some travel a round-trip of between 16,000–20,000 km (10,000–12,400 miles) every year between their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico and their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas, however a female grey whale has recently been recorded as having made an even longer round-trip of 22,500km (14,000 miles) migrating between the east coast of Russia and the breeding grounds of Mexico. To put this into perspective, the continent of Africa is approximately 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from north to south.
Whale's Tooth Nantucket Scrimshaw
In its lifetime (about 40 years) a gray whale travels a distance that is equivalent to going to the moon and back.
Despite their size, the , the second largest whale, is known as the "greyhound of the sea" and can reach speeds of up to 20mph (32kph),
Communication among whales is achieved in several ways. They create sounds, make physical contact and use body language. Large whales can communicate over huge distances (across entire ocean basins) using very low frequencies.
An individual fin whale pees about 970 liters per day. That’s enough to fill up more than 3 bathtubs.
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered whales. Only around 400-500 individuals survive, living along the east coast of North America. A few hundred right whales also live in the North Pacific while the Western Pacific gray whale may be down to the last 150 whales.