Whales and dolphins come in all shapes and sizes. In this
section you will find some amazing facts and figures about these incredible
Largest: The blue whale is the heaviest and longest animal
on Earth. The average adult length is 25m (82ft) in males and 26.2m (86ft)
in females, with
body weights of 90-120 tonnes.
Smallest: Hector's dolphin is the world's smallest cetacean.
They may be only 1.2m (3ft11in) long when fully grown. Although, taking
average lengths, the
finless porpoise is probably the lightest weighing 30-45kg (66-69lbs);
nearly 3000 finless porpoises would weigh roughly the same as one blue
- Tallest blow: A 'blow' or 'spout' is the cloud of water droplets produced
above a whale's head when it blows out. The tallest blow belongs to the
blue whale where
blows of up to 12m (39ft 5in) have been reported.
- Largest Appetite: A blue whale eats up to 4 tonnes of krill everyday.
This is equivalent to eating a fully grown African elephant every day.
- Longest Dive: Early whalers reported dive times of more than 2 hours
for northern bottlenose whales.
- Deepest Dive: The sperm whale is believed to dive deeper than any other
cetacean. They have been known to dive as deep as 2000m (6560ft)
- Longest Lived: One bowhead whale was reported to have been 130 years
old when it died!
- Heaviest Brain: The sperm whale has the world's heaviest brain which
can weigh up to 9.2kg (20lb 5oz). This compares with the average 1.4kg
1oz) for the brain
of an adult human.
- Tallest dorsal fin: The huge dorsal fin of the bull orca (killer whale)
can reach a remarkable height of 1.8m (6ft), roughly as tall as a man.
- Fastest: A bull orca, has been timed swimming at 55km/h (34 mph) in the
eastern North Pacific.
- Most Endangered: The baiji or Chinese river dolphin, is the rarest dolphin
in the world. It lives in the Yangtze River in China. There are thought
to be perhaps
less than 100 of these dolphins remaining and the planned damming of
the river will probably mean that the dolphin will become extinct in
the next few years.
The vaquita, a porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California is the
rarest marine dolphin. Just a few hundred animals are thought to still
Whaling decimated the populations of large whales. Today, just 300
northern right whales remain, living off the east coast of North America.
- Longest Song: Male humpback whales sing the longest and most complex
songs in the animal kingdom. Each song lasts for half an hour or more and
main components. The aim of the singing is probably to woo females and
to frighten off rival males. The songs can be heard underwater hundreds,
or even thousands, of miles away!
- Longest Migration: For a long time the gray whale was believed to undertake
the longest known migration of any mammal. Hugging the North American coastline,
from its winter breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexico, to its summer
feeding grounds in the rich waters of the Bering Sea in the Arctic and
back again. This amounts to a total annual distance of 12000-20000km
(7452-12420 miles). In a gray whale's lifetime of 40 years or more, this
is equivalent to a return trip to the moon! In recent years, researchers
have begun tracking the migration of humpback whales from Antarctic waters
to the equator off Colombia and Costa Rica. One female whale was spotted
off the Antarctic peninsula and then resighted five months later off
Colombia. Even taking the shortest route this would have been a journey
of over 8400km (5000 miles)!