Did you know that whales are mammals?
In fact whales are the largest living animals in the world.
The largest known whale to ever exist (the blue whale) has been known to have grown to a length of 110 – 115 ft and weighed over 150 tons!
Some species such as the killer whale (killer whales are actually dolphins) have very complex social lives and spend a large majority of their lives together hunting, interacting and traveling together.
Other whales such as the humpback whale are more solitary and usually travel alone or in small groups.
The groups that whales travel in are known as pods.
Each pod can contain anywhere from 2 - 100′s of whales, however most pods usually only contain a few whales (between 2-30).
Larger pods are usually formed during periods of migration where whales travel long distances from one part of the ocean to another or when they are hunting for food.
Whales communicate using a combination of physical actions such as breaching, tail slapping and charging towards one another and by creating sounds to let other whales know that they want to mate, have found food or to let them know that danger is near by.
Some whales also use something known as echolocation.
Echolocation is really cool because whales use it to create sounds in the ocean.
The sounds then bounce off of nearby objects and back to the whale giving the whale information about the object.
Whales can tell how far the object is, if it’s dense or hallow and whether it’s large or small.
This helps them find food, avoid collision with objects and avoid danger.
Echolocation is extremely useful because sound travels four times faster in the water than it does in the air and since whales are very adept at using sound (it’s one of their primary sense’s) it gives them a huge advantage in the water.
During the whaling industry many whales were hunted for oil, food and other resources leaving many of them endangered.
Fear of extinction from people in recent years have led to reforms and changes in the way whales are interacted with and eventually the whaling industry came to an end.
Unfortunately many whales still remain endangered to this day.
However since the end of the whaling industry whales have become very popular in modern culture.
Whale watching and live exhibits at aquarium shows bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors each and every year all over the world.
T.V. shows and hollywood movies feature whales and dolphins as main characters and toys have become very popular amongst kids as well.
Whales are one of the most well-known and (more recently) appreciated animals in history and will most likely remain that way for a long time!
10 whale facts you may not know
- Did you know that whales like all mammals are warm-blooded, produce milk to feed their young, have body hair (only on some species) and require air to survive?
- While the toothed whale (Odontoceti) only has one blowhole to expel excess water around its blowhole and use for breathing the baleen whale (Mysticeti) has two.
- Whales sleep very differently than most mammals. They are considered conscious breathers meaning that they never fall completely asleep due to the fact that they need to consciously decide to go up for air or they will suffocate or drown.
- While little is known about the actual lifespan of the average whale (partly because of the various characteristics of each species, and partly because of a lack of scientific data) it is estimated that bowhead whales may live as long as 200 years, while other species may only live into their 20′s.
- Some whales can spend as much as 90% of their lives underwater surfacing from time to time to restore their oxygen and/or for social interaction.
- The male humpback only sings during mating periods and is believed by some to use its mating songs to communicate fitness, youth, vitality and desire to mate with female whales.
- Whales are mammals and make up part of the cetacean species which includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.
- The blue whale is the largest known animal to ever exist growing as large as 115 feet in length.
- Unlike humans whales do not need to exhale to produce sound.
- Did you know that whales breathe exclusively through their blowholes? Unlike humans the whales trachea (air passage) is not connected to its mouth, it is connected to its blowhole.