Like humans, whales are mammals with oxygen intake, hair, and a typical mammals’ reproductive system. These creatures are lovely, charming, fascinating, and a symbol of nurture, companionship, and innovation. If you’re all about these marine animals and love to know more about their water life, these 10 exceptional facts about a whale will surprise you.
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Whales Vs. Dolphins: How To Identify
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are all cetaceans. But what cetaceans should we consider “whales” rather than “dolphins” and “porpoises?”
Typically, researchers categorize cetaceans into two types based on their teeth: Toothed ones are odontocetes, while those without dentures (baleen whales) are mysticetes.
Although there has been no scientific justification, typically, whales are all mysticetes and bigger dented ones like sperm whales, beluga whales, and narwhal whales.
Given their cumulative size, people often regard baleen whales as “the sea giant.” However, there are more than one subspecies of baleen.
According to the Society for Marine Mammalogy, fifteen baleen whale varieties exist. These mammals possess plaques in their mouths to filter food, plankton, small shrimp, and tiny fish out from the marine.
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises sometimes are hard to identify – The Coastal Paleontologist
On the other hand, denture ones account for most cetaceans, from giant killer whales to beaked whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Moreover, these odontocetes feed primarily big fish, juveniles, octopus, and some even consume other marine animals. Although they possess huge teeth, they don’t use them to chew food at all.
Relatively small cetaceans are what people tend to identify as dolphins or porpoises. Of which, dolphins are generally bigger than porpoises, have a more potent nose, and possess spherical teeth. In contrast, porpoises have flatter, narrower faces and also flat dentures.
By the way, do you know: where do flies go at night?
10 Surprising Facts About A Whale
There Are About 90 Whale Species On Earth Up To Date
Do you know that according to the Society of Marine Mammalogy, whales consist of only 90 species, up to date?
There are up to 90 whale species at the moment – Baran
However, nowadays, scientists are still on their way to find out new ones! Indeed, the Gulf of Maine in 2021 reported a brand new subspecies of baleen.
Humpback Whales Won’t Eat Food Until After Their Breeding Season
Humpback whales’ mating season begins in winter. In the breeding session, male humpback whales perform sophisticated melodies, lasting up to 20 mins. You can recognize their mating songs from miles away in wintertime mating sites. And only after their breeding session, will they start their annual migration for food.
During their annual migration from their tropical mating areas to the Antarctic to feast on krill, these humpback whales will survive off their stored fat. Surprisingly, the whole period could last for 5.5-7.5 months. In other words, they don’t eat for most parts of the year, unlike how dogs love raw bacon or mice eat roaches.
Get to know more about humpback whales here:
All Toothed Whales Possess A Lump In Their Foreheads.
The lump is a cluster of tissue that concentrates the mammals’ vocalizations, essential for communication and echolocation. They utilize soundwaves to “sight” in the same way as bats do. Towards ships, this spermaceti organ is a crucial feature of their echolocation mechanism.
However, this unique feature also causes them lots of trouble as commercial whalers target the lump’s fat and its peculiar fuel. As a result, this action almost drove them to extinction.
There Used To Be Thousands Of Blue Whales
Before commercialization, there were approximately 225,000 Antarctic blue whales. However, nowadays, the number goes down to only under 3,000.
The blue whale is the world’s biggest mammal, reaching heights of 90 feet and weighing as much as 24 elephants, which is a total of almost 330,000 pounds.
A female blue whale measuring 33.58m in South Georgia in 1909 is the longest one recorded. On the other hand, on March 20, 1947, the world’s biggest blue whale ever, a female one, got hunted in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica.
Typically, Only Male Narwhals Possess A Tusk Developing From A Tooth
One of the biggest fun facts about narwhals is that only male ones possess tusks.
Male Narwhals always come with a tusk – facts about a whale. Source: NBC News
This tusk is a sensing instrument intended to monitor movements in the surrounding waters. It is helpful for hunting, demonstrations of leadership, and sometimes, battling and shattering ice.
Facts About A Whale: Killer Whales Are Not Whales
As National Geographic stated, orcas are the largest kinds of dolphins, notwithstanding their moniker of “killer whales.” Yet, they are highly gregarious creatures who frequently move in matriarchal groupings (families anchored on the mom).
Many suggest that their name originates from their assassin nature. In the end, they do feed on lots of animals, including sharks and whales. In fact, the first encounter ever recorded of killer whales and sharks was in October, 1997 on Farallon Islands where two killer whales defeated a white shark and precisely removed and ate the shark’s organ.
Yet, it’s not the only reason behind its renowned moniker. If you’re wondering why killer whales get their unique name, here is the answer:
Facts About A Whale: Whales Are One Of The Most Long-lived Mammals
If you think turtles are the only animal that lives long, think twice.
According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, bowhead whales (a mysticete discovered in the Arctic) typically survive for over 200 years. Moreover, killer whales (an odontocete that appeared in several settings across the planet) thrive for more than 100 years.
Facts About A Whale: Beluga Whales’ Communication System Is Complex
In reality, Beluga whales are the canaries of the sea – facts about a whale. Source: Forbes
Beluga whales’ necks are supple, enabling species to shift their heads around. But, as claimed by the Seaworld Organization, their sophisticated whistle, click, chirp communications repertoire led to the appellation “sea canaries.”
Facts About A Whale: North Atlantic Right Whales Are Susceptible To Collisions
North Atlantic right whales collect tiny creatures on the water surface, stretching the extended baleen-shaped waters. As a result, the surface foraging habits and flourishing leave them susceptible to crashes.
Facts About A Whale: Whales Tend To Get Stuck In Nets
Do you know that more than 85% of the North Atlantic right whales get trapped several times throughout their lifetimes? Although they aren’t dumb animals, these whales get stuck in fishing nets at least once within their life circles, as stated by NOAA Fisheries.
This entanglement is quite dangerous for whales as they do need air to survive. Once they get trapped, the hooks and rope lines will hurt their bodies. Even when they escape, the damages are still there. In the worst case, the cuts won’t stop bleeding and cause their death.
Now, you know all of our 10 enlightening facts about a whale. These giant creatures have accompanied our ancestors throughout the Earth’s history and set up their distinct marine empire.
Although most cetaceans, nowadays, haven’t faced extinction, some particular species like the blue whales do encounter a high risk of vanishing. Thus, it requires individuals’ awareness to fight against commercial whalers and save these trusted friends. Together, pay attention to the marine world and environment for a better Earth.
For other exciting scientific findings, refer to our science corner.
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