Whales are able to control the flow of blood to the heart
and brain so that they do not suffer from lack of oxygen on deep dives.
A Blue Whale's tongue is about the size and weight of a full grown AFRICAN
ELEPHANT, and its heart is compared to the size of a Volkswagen beetle.
Whale fetuses have hands and fingers, which fuse together before birth.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises drown because they get tangled in nylon
fishing nets. These nets are used because they are inexpensive.
The narwhal has a long horn which protrudes from the front of its head
and it is actually an overgrown tooth. Sailors, many years ago thought
it was related to the mythical unicorn!
The sperm whale is the size of four elephants.
A Southern Right whale calf can drink up to 200 litres of milk per day?
The adult male Strap-toothed whale has boar-like tusks on each side of
his lower jaw that may become a foot long and wrap around the upper jaw?
These tusks can restrict the whale from opening his mouth which is a problem
since he has to suck up squid in order to survive.
The Blainville Beaked whale has a thick, lower jaw that looks like stair
steps with a single tooth growing out of the middle on both sides?
Orcas have been timed reaching speeds of 38 km/h, Bridled dolphins at
43 km/h and Shortfin pilot whales at 49 km/h? The fastest cetaceans are
perhaps even in excess of 56 km/h.
When studied under a microscope, the structure of a dolphin's brain is
as advanced as that of a human's brain?
A dolphin in a large tank can hear, and precisely locate, a teaspoonful
of water being poured anywhere into the tank?
A sperm whale's stomach was cut open, and was found to contain 28, 000
tiny squids? Some other sperm whale stomachs have had boots, wire, buckets,
plastic bags and sand inside them.
There is no record of a killer whale (actually of a species of dolphin)
ever harming a human.
The Orca (Killer Whale) is considered a dolphin despite its much greater
length of 30 feet.
Female and young Killer whales have short curved dorsal fins. In comparison,
the male's fin is much taller and straight.
The sperm whale has a single nostril on one side of its head. When it
surfaces to breath, the spray is "blown" at an angle...not straight
up as depicted by other large whales.
The Beluga whale, white in color, has NO dorsal fin...and its neck is
very flexible enabling it to turn its head independently of its body.
The humpback whale's flipper can grow as long as 17 feet...longer than
the flippers of any other whale. Its scientific name is Megaptera meaning "long
About 55 million years ago, wolf-like land mammals began to search and
hunt for food in water, and they slowly evolved into what we know as the
whales of today.
Whales belong to the mammalian order Cetacea , and are divided into two
groups, Baleen (or whale-bone) whales and Toothed whales.
Baleen whales have no teeth, but they do have two blowholes. They are
filter feeders, and some feed mainly on Krill (a small shrimp-like animal),
while others can gulp down entire schools of fish. Their filters are baleen
plates, which are like huge fringed brushes growing down from the upper
jaws. These are used to strain the food from the water. A few examples
of Baleen Whales are Right whales, the Gray whale and the Rorquals.
Toothed whales have a single blowhole. Their main food is fish and squid.
A few examples of Toothed whales are Killer (or Orcas), Pilot, and Sperm
whales. Dolphins are also small toothed whales.
Whales are able to grow to such enormous sizes because their weight is
supported by the water. Unlike land Mammals whose bones are hard and strong,
the bones of whales are soft and porous, and are also used to help store
food reserves in the form of oil.
Underwater, whales do not have good vision. They have very good hearing,
and use a system known as Echo location which utilizes a series of sounds
and echoes to help them find their way and their food.
Because whales travel in cold, icy waters, and can dive great depths,
they need to keep warm. Under their skin is a very thick layer of Blubber.
This acts as Thermal Insulation and also as a food storage.
Whales are strong powerful swimmers. Their tail flukes are used to propel
and steer them along, and their pectoral fins are used for twisting and
turning in the water.
Every year Baleen whales migrate to warmer water to mate, give birth
and raise their young calves. Being air-breathing, baby whales are usually
born tail first. It is important that as soon as they are born they reach
the surface of the water to take in their first breath, otherwise they
could drown. The mothers' milk is rich and high in fat content, and the
calf gains weight and grows very quickly, as it learns to swim, search
for food and communicate with others.