Whales are amazing marine mammals that are capable of communicating with each other over extremely long distances, hunting for food together using strategic team oriented hunting techniques, playing water sports with one another and other water related activities, competing with each other during mating periods or just for fun and protecting their families against potential predators or threats.
In fact whales are an extremely intelligent and diverse species that are divided into around 80 – 90 different species based on their physical characteristics.
All species are broken down into two suborders known as toothed whales and baleen whales and make up what is known as the cetacean species.
These two suborders include all species of whale, dolphin and porpoise with dolphins and porpoises belonging exclusively to the toothed whale suborder and the larger baleen whales belonging exclusively to the baleen whale suborder.
All cetacean species are marine mammals and share several characteristics with one another which we’ll explain shortly in our fun facts section.
From a historical perspective it is believed that whales and their dolphin and porpoise relatives evolved from land dwelling creatures into marine mammals over the course of millions of years.
In fact bones can still be found in the flippers of whales which indicate limbs that were once used for walking on land, hunting and capturing food.
Today millions of whales inhibit the ocean all over the world.
In order to give you a better understanding of why whales are so amazing we’ve put together 15 whale facts that kids can explore and learn about the cetacean species.
15 fun whale facts for kids that you may not have known about
1) The biggest animal on the planet is the blue whale, which can grow to over 100 ft long and weigh more than 150 tons!
2) The smallest known whale is the dwarf sperm whale which measures in at around 9 ft. and can weigh between 400 – 600 pounds!
3) Unlike fish whales breathe air and must come to the surface of the water in order to take in oxygen.
4) Some scientists believe that the bowhead whale can live as long as 200 years!
5) Unlike humans whales can make sounds without having to exhale.
6) The killer whale & pilot whale (despite their names) are actually part of the dolphin family.
7) Because whales live in the water they are never able to fall completely asleep otherwise they would drown.
9) Despite the blue whales massive size it is unable to swallow a human because it’s food passage is roughly the size of a beach ball, which is much smaller than an adult human or even a young child.
10) A blue whale can eat as many as 40 million krill per day!
11) In addition to making sounds with their blowholes whales can also communicate and locate food using echolocation.
12) Whales along with reptiles remain one of our oldest connections to the history of the dinosaurs as their earliest ancestors lived more than 50 million years ago.
13) Millions of years ago whales (actually their ancestors) used walk the earth and hunt on land.
14) The history of whale watching (in the US) can be dated back as far as 1950 where the Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego was declared a public place to observe gray whales in their natural habitat
15) The sperm whale can hold its breath for 90 minutes!