Whales, like all mammals, breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded, feed their young milk, and have some hair.
Did you Know?
Males are called bulls. Females are called cows. The young are called calves. A social group of whales is called a pod.
Unlike fish who breathe using gills, whales breathe through blowholes, located on the top of the head.
Some whales can stay underwater for up to two hours holding a single breath!
The Blue Whale is the largest mammal and can boast a length of up to 105ft long and a weight of up to 150 tons! The smallest whale is the dwarf sperm whale which grows to be just 8.5 feet long.
Whales generally live for 40-200 years, depending on their species.
Whales are the closest living relatives of hippos!
Many whales migrate each year, from cold water feeding grounds to warm water breeding grounds. Gray whales make the longest migration of 12,500 miles each year!
Some whales can swim up to 30 miles per hour!
Whales receive sound through their lower jaw. They communicate with each other, keep track of offspring and locate prey by other using lyrical sound. Due to their size and strength, some sounds are extremely loud and can be heard for many miles!
Females give birth to a single calf each year. Nursing time can be more than one year. Most calves stay with their mother for typically 7 to 10 years thereafter. The few number of offspring coupled with the length of time the calf is weaned, provides each calf with a high probability of survival in the wild.
IMPACT OF COMMERCIAL FISHERIES ON WHALES:
Unfortunately, whale populations are decreasing for several reasons. Not only are several species of small whales caught as bycatch in fisheries for other species, some countries actually hunt whales for food. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission introduced a six-year moratorium of all commercial whaling. The moratorium has not yet been lifted, but for various reasons Norway, Iceland, Japan, and native communities of Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada are excepted from the moratorium.
Whale populations are also decreasing because of the use of sonar. The U.S. Defense department has been ordered by the U.S. Courts to strictly limit use of its low frequency sonar during peacetime, as some researchers feel that higher frequencies of sonar harm whales. The European Parliament has requested that EU members refrain from using the powerful sonar system until an environmental impact study has been carried out.
Also, as global warming causes the Antarctic Ocean to warm, whale food sources are reducing dramatically which will inevitably have an effect on whale survival rates.