Whale Facts For Kids

Whales are one of the worlds most amazing and elusive creatures known to roam the open sea and although they are known to share the ocean with fish these large animals are very different from fish.

The reason for this is that whales are marine mammals so they share similar features and characteristics with other mammals.

Some of the features whales share with other mammals include being warm-blooded, which requires these marine mammals to develop a layer of fat (commonly known as blubber) in order to stay warm in cold climates; this is especially important for whales because they live in the water and the cold water can be very damaging to the whale and even cause death if the whale did not possess blubber to keep them warm.

Fish are very different because they are cold-blooded so their body adjusts to different climates and environments without needing fat or blubber to keep them warm.

Another interesting feature of whales is that whales are known to give birth to their children much like humans do.

The female whale goes through a pregnancy period that can last anywhere from 10 months all the way up to 17 months depending on the species.

Fish on the other hand do not give birth to their children, instead they lays thousands of eggs which get left behind to hatch on their own and fish do not provide parental care to their children the way humans and whales do.

There is also a big difference between fish and whales in terms of size.

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 grow to lengths of 70 – 90 ft. long and can weigh up to 150 tons!

When it comes to being smart whales are very intelligent animals and some species are known to form close relationships with family and friends.

Species such as 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.

In some cases up to four generations of family members may live together in a single group.

Other species such as the humpback whale are more solitary and usually travel alone or in small groups.

The groups that whales travel in are called 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 the other or when they are mating or hunting for food.

When it comes to communicating with one another whales communicate using a combination of physical gestures 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 others know that danger is near by.

In order to simplify the 80 – 90 species of marine mammals all whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the cetacean family and are separated into two primary groups based on their unique physical features.

These groups are called the baleen whale and toothed whale suborders.

As the name suggests baleen whales possess baleen plates with bristles which they use to filter the food they take into their mouth.

The thin dense bristles allow baleen whales to trap small prey and keep it from escaping while allowing water to pass through similar to a fence that keeps a dog from escaping but allows air to pass in and out of the gaps in the fence.

Once these large animals capture enough food they swallow their prey whole.

Toothed whales on the other hand possess teeth, which they can use to threaten predators, grab onto their prey with or even bite other marine mammals.

Toothed whales also use something known as echolocation.

Echolocation is really cool because whales can create unique sounds in order to find their way around the ocean.

Once these marine mammals create a sound the sound bounces 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 in the ocean and avoid danger.

Echolocation is extremely useful because sound travels four times faster in the water than it does in the air and since toothed whales are very adept at using sound (it’s one of their primary senses) it gives them a huge advantage in the water, especially in areas that are too dark to see.

Although whales are considered amazing animals and are loved by millions of people this wasn’t always so.

In the past whales were frequently hunted by people who used their parts to make various products.

During the whaling industry era, which occurred between the 17th – 20th centuries, many whales were hunted for oil, food and other resources leaving many of them endangered.

As humans began developing alternative oils and products decades later that did not require the use of whale parts the practice of whaling began to decline.

In addition to the creation of alternative resources the fear of certain whale species becoming extinct led to reforms, new laws and changes in the way whales are interacted with which caused commercial whaling to become illegal and eventually led to the end of the whaling industry.

Although the whaling industry has officially ended a number of whale species still remain endangered to this day.

However since the end of the whaling industry whales have become very popular in modern culture and peoples views on whales have changed dramatically.

Today whales are adored by millions of people.

In fact whale watching and live exhibits at aquarium shows have brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors each and every year from all over the world.

T.V. shows and Hollywood movies such as Free Willy, Whale Rider, Big Micircle and Namu: The Killer Whale also feature whales and dolphins as main characters and countless toys have become very popular among kids and young whale fans.

Thanks to a new perspective on the whale species 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 Cool whale facts for kids

1) 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?

2) While the toothed whale (Odontoceti) only has one blowhole the baleen whale (Mysticeti) has two.

3) Whales sleep very differently than most mammals. They are considered conscious breathers meaning they are always aware of their need for oxygen and never fall completely asleep due to the fact that they need to constantly be aware of their need to come up for air or they could drown.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) The male humpback only sings during mating periods and is believed by some to use its mating songs to communicate fitness, youth, vitality and a desire to mate with female whales.

7) Whales are mammals and make up part of the cetacean species which includes all species of whale, dolphin and porpoise.

8) The blue whale is the largest known animal to ever exist with the largest recorded whale growing as large as 110 feet in length.

9) Unlike humans whales do not need to exhale to produce sound.

10) 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.