Phone: 619-669-5183

Everything You Need to Know about Whales

Known to be royalty at sea, whales have certain qualities that make them truly unique creatures. Understanding them is a task that one must undertake in order to realize their significance in the world’s ecosystem.

Not to be confused with fish, whales are actually mammals like humans and as a result, they are warm-blooded and they feed their young with milk from their mammary glands. For survival, whales inhale air through an opening at the top of their heads known as a blowhole. The location of the blowhole allows the whale to stay submerged while breathing. They release excess water and this forms a spout that can be used to determine the species of whale. Whales have thick bodies that are insulated by a layer of fat known as the blubber. Like other mammals and vertebrates, they have a spinal column and a heart consisting of four chambers. Their necks provide them with stability to help them swim. Whales also have ears that enable them to hear certain frequencies in the undersea environment. In terms of feeding behavior, whales are regarded to be predators with their main diet being plankton; but they feed on larger animals, too. They are aided by echolocation that uses sound frequencies to detect their prey. While other whales have teeth that allow them to devour their prey, some whales don’t and they simply inhale the water containing the prey in order to be directly digested within. Most whales are not monogamous and they may have many mates in different seasons. Whales produce very few offspring; however, they have been known to have a very high survival rate. Baby whales are nursed by their mothers until they are old enough to feed on their own.

  • Anatomy of the Whale: Characteristics and features of the whale anatomy are found in this reference.

Although many species of whales exist, whales have been classified into two main sub-orders: Baleen and Toothed. The important difference between the two whale sub-orders is that the Baleen, known as the Mysticeti, does not have teeth unlike the Toothed, known as the Odontoceti. To compensate for the lack of teeth, the Baleen whales have baleen plates which are plates that sift out the food from water. Toothed whales are known to be more predacious than Baleen due to their ability to decapitate their prey. Baleen whales are characterized for having bigger females than males and they have two blowholes whereas Toothed whales only have one. Some examples of common whales under the Baleen whale sub-order are: the Humpback Whale, the Blue Whale, and the Northern Pacific Right Whale. A total of fourteen species and four families have been fully known for the Baleen whales. For the Toothed whale sub-order, some commonly known whales are: the Sperm Whale, the Beluga, and the Northern Bottlenose Whale. The Toothed whales have a more diversified amount of species with porpoises and dolphins part of this sub-order. Most Toothed whales are significantly smaller in size except Sperm Whales when compared to Baleen Whales. These two species share the common traits that whales have, but it is their defining characteristics that distinguish them.

  • Baleen Whales: Included is an in depth description of Baleen Whales.

Whales are of great value to humans because they contain things that are useful in the livelihood of people. Whales have a huge supply of meat and oil. The need of whale meat for food is present in the Inuits of Alaska who have no other source because of the harsh environment. Including that, certain species, such as the Sperm whale, have ambergris, a perfume ingredient. The baleen of Baleen Whales have been also been sold commercially. These things cannot be extracted unless the whale has been killed; this is known as whaling. Whaling has been known to diversely alter the whale population because the birth rate is significantly low; eliminating one whale really puts the population at risk. Japanese and Icelandic authorities have sought to whaling in order to stop them from depleting other important food sources such as capelin and herring. As a result of such activity, almost 2 million whales have been killed by the 20th century. In response to this activity, the International Whaling Commission has put a ban on whaling; however, other nations continue for research and food-provision.

Whales have been decreasing because of the whaling activity and the human activity that has hindered their communication. Whales communicate by sending off signals to each other. These signals are sent off in frequencies that are picked up even through long distances and to the human ears, they sound somewhat similar to a moan or a screech. Other whale sounds may be simple clicks, as shown in Toothed Whales. When whales intend to mate, these signals resemble songs which are sent off by male whales which are picked up by the females. Throughout time, these signals had been fluid and the whale population progressed. The migratory routes of whales usually lie near the shoreline but recently, the shorelines have been filled with much interference of human activity that the whales could not communicate efficiently. This has resulted in the lowering of the whale population. People have advocated in saving the whales to bring back their abundance. They opt to prevent whaling and overall protect the species at hand. The American Cetacean Society is an organization that makes people aware of the dangers faced by whales cause by whaling and other whale-detrimental activities. These missions have shown to help put the whale population back on its track, and hopefully letting the female whales finally hear the prolonged male songs.

Whales are very beautiful creatures especially in the comfort of their natural habitats. People have taken the time to devote to whale watching, an activity that involves the observing whales as they frolic in their own environment. Other than entertainment purposes, whale watching has been done for educational purposes in order to learn more about the whales, and scientific purposes that entail the study of whale behavior. Ideal locations for whale watching include: the Atlantic, the Pacific, Africa, Australia, the North Indian, and Costa Rica. Whales can be observed off the coast like in Atlantic regions, blue whales may be seen off the Bay of Biscay. In Northern Norway, orcas have been seen. In the Philippines alone, thirty different whale species may be observed around the Central Visayas. Southern Africa, off the town of Hermanus, is regarded as one of the world’s whale watching hot spots. Whales can also be seen in Sydney Harbor migrating south. Whale watching has been known to produce $1 billion in worldwide revenue and Iceland has been known to have the most booming whale watching industry.

Although whales are underwater creatures, whales usually come up to the surface in order to understand the environment overhead. Because they are conscious of their surroundings, whales have center behaviors that give them an idea of the setting around them. Breaching is when the whale propels itself off the water with a twisting motion. This is done either for entertainment, or in the loosening of skin parasites. This movement may have a symbolic means of communicating with other whales. Lunging is done by moving forward on the surface with the head above water. This is done as a form of closing in on the females in competition with other males. Sometimes the whole body of the whale may be above water, resembling the leap of a porpoise. This is known as porpoising and is done usually for play. If a whale wants to look at its surrounding without any disturbance, the whale may vertically rise to a point with the eyes above the water as they begin to observe the surroundings. This is known as spyhopping. Slapping, whether tail slapping, head slapping, or peduncle slapping, is where the whale forcefully returns into the water to avoid any influences in case danger may be around. Tail slaps and head slaps can be heard for miles around to alert other whales. Peduncle slaps and throws use the caudal peduncle and tail to force water upward as the whale zooms downward. This is done on top of another whale. Because of its huge force, it can help in the protection of the whale using this.

Whales are fascinating creatures and they are so diverse that their existence gives a certain understanding. As they swim the oceans, their majesty as being the largest animals in the oceans will continue on. Action Car and Boat Donation Services provides support to a variety of conservation and preservation non-profits and charities. Your donation of a no longer needed car, boat, yacht, truck or motorhome can help them continue their conservation work.

Leave a comment