Whales are large marine mammals belonging to the taxonomic order Cetacea. They come in two varieties: Odontoceti comprising of the carnivorous toothed whales, and Mysticeti comprising the unique filter feeders that strain plankton, krill and other organic matter into their stomachs through the use of baleen. Many whales are huge in size; the blue whale is the largest living creature ever known to have existed on the planet. They are usually long-lived, with some individuals known and recorded as having lived for more than a century. Despite the overhunting in the 18th century, whales are slowly gaining their numbers back in the wild.
As mammals, whales are warm-blooded, air-breathing creatures that give birth to live young and even have body hair. Despite a generally fish-like appearance, whales do not resemble fish in the slightest at the biological level. Whales have a four-chambered heart and spinal column as well as dorsally mounted blowholes that function as nostrils helping the creature breathe while partially underwater. The whale ear is especially acute, being capable of directional hearing of faint whale songs from far off distances underwater.
Many whale species, including the humpback whale, communicate through the use of melodic whale songs that can sometimes be heard for miles in distance from the individual. Whale songs serve can serve to communicate a wide variety of information to whales in the surrounding area, including self-identification. Whales also have a mechanism for vocalizing a loud “click” that is used for echolocation. The highly developed ear of the whale is ideal for interpreting the echoes of these clicks, which can often be the loudest sounds in the ocean and even interfere with sonar devices of ships.
Whales are predators, although the creatures that they eat vary widely. Toothed whales prefer to eat smaller fish, squid – the sperm whale’s favorite food is giant squid, and it remains the only viable predator for the species. Killer whales are known to eat just about anything, including mammals and even other whales. Baleen whales like the enormous blue whale live off of krill that they filter out of the water by taking huge mouthfuls of seawater and forcing it through the thin, comb-like structures, leaving the creatures stranded within the whale’s mouth. Whales do not drink seawater as is commonly believed, but, instead, take water out of their food, when metabolizing it.
Baleen whales are whales that belong to the parvorder Mysticeti, one of the two in the infraorder Cetacea which comprise of whales, dolphins and porpoises. These whales, also called whalebone whales, are edentulous, meaning that they do not have teeth. Instead of teeth, they have baleen plates, which are special plates made of keratin that are used to filter food such as zooplankton from water.
Baleen whales are generally much larger than their toothed counterparts, with the blue whale being the largest animal ever to have existed, with adults being able to reach 30 meters in length. The oral cavities of these whales are specialized for filter feeding, meaning that the mandibular joints are extremely flexible.
This gives the whales the ability to dynamically enlarge their oral cavities in order to draw in enormous quantities of water with zooplankton, also making it possible to grow to titanic sizes. These whales must come to the surface to breathe air, and they do that through two blowholes compared to the one blowhole of toothed whales. The paired blowholes form the distinct V shape seen in surfacing whales. The Mysticeti comprises of four families, with notable species such as the blue whale, gray whale, humpback whale and minke whale, with the blue whale being the largest species and the minke being the smallest.
These whales get their name from the baleen plates, an adaptation for filter feeding. The term comes from the archaic English term baleen which was used for whales, which comes
from the Latin balaena. These plates consist primarily of keratin, the protein present in hair and nails. These plates have “hairs” arranged like a comb which enables the whales to eject water while retaining zooplankton and fish. These whales have teeth only during their embryonic phase, and fossils of these whales were toothed, so the baleen plates must have evolved more recently.
Contrary to toothed whales, which catch their prey actively and individually, these toothless whales are carnivorous filter feeders. The preferred diet of baleen whales is krill, tiny crustaceans which made up significant amounts of zooplankton. Krill is mainly found in the Southern Hemisphere during summer, and Northern Hemisphere whales may feed on schooling fish or even organisms living in shallow waters on the bottom of the seabed such as amphipods.
Most toothless whale species reach sexual maturity at 5 to 10 years. Females usually give birth after 7 to 11 months of gestation and may feed the calf for up to a year. Before they become adults, these whales grow in size and weight at remarkable rates. Blue whale fetuses can add up to 100 kilograms per day, while, during suckling, they can add 80 kg per day and reach 17 tons and reaching 13 to 16 meters before weaning. When reaching adulthood, they will be 20 to 24 meters long and weigh up to 180 tons. Baleen whales can live for 80 or even 90 years.
When a Beluga whale reaches adulthood its length is around 15 feet (around 4.6 cm long) and it is most commonly identified as Helis. Beluga means “white” in Russian language. Beluga whale is also called as the white whale and can gain around 1600 kg in case of males and 1200 in case of female Beluga Whales. A beluga Whale calf looks either brown or grey in color. Upon maturity, the color of the baby beluga whale fades and then becomes either white or whitish grey. The beluga whale looks full of fat and has an oily bump in the center of the forehead. Truly wonders do exist and looking at the sight of these wonderful beluga whales, it gives a heavenly feeling. They have a single blowhole.
Beluga Whales are extremely social and make it a point to congregate in pods of 2-25. The entire pod of beluga whales migrate as one group. The mother and baby bonding of the Beluga whales is the strongest. In case of migration several pods join and it can be as big as 200 to 10000 beluga whales at one time.
The beluga whales are famous for their songs and chattering and that’s why they are known as the sea canaries and their sounds can also be heard above sea level.
These songs are used as a mode of communication with the other belugas and several sounds such as clicks, whistles, squeals etc are produced by the beluga whales. The fatty bump of the beluga whale changes shape when they create sounds.
The belugas live in sub arctic and frigid waters, but there are some beluga whales that migrate southwards for warmer water in summer season. The gestational period of beluga whale is around 14 to 15 months. After which near the surface of warm, shallow waters, a calf is born. Just in 10 seconds the beluga whale calf swims to a surface for first breath and is assisted by its mother. The beluga whales gain maturity at around 8 to 9 years. The life span of Beluga whales is around 25 to 30 years. The killer whales and the polar bears are the common predators that prey on the baby beluga whales.
Around 80000 beluga whales are estimated worldwide and they are classified as the endangered species. The teeth of the beluga whales are designed for grabbing as well as tearing the prey and they have a habit of swallowing their prey. Being opportunist feeders, they eat fish, squid, octopi, crustaceans and worms. A mature beluga whale eats around 50 pounds of food per day. Sometimes it is assumed that these Beluga whales do take wrong turns and accidentally reach different destinations and that becomes a biggest adventure for them. It is really a magical moment to witness the beluga whales and lots of people are privileged to see these beautiful creatures and they cherish these memories for ever.
The blue whale is a marine mammal within the parvorder Mysticeti of the infraorder Cetacea. A baleen whale, this species is the largest known animal in the world as well as the heaviest, with lengths reaching 30 meters or more and weighing over 180 tons.
The scientific name for the species is Balaenoptera musculus. However, at least 4 subspecies are known: B. m. musculus, B. m. intermedia and B. m. brevicauda, with B. m. indica being considered to be a distinct subspecies. These whales are also known as rorquals, or members of the family Balaenopteridae which also includes humpback whales, sei whales, fin whales and minke whales. B. m. musculus lives in the Northern hemisphere, with its somewhat larger counterpart, B. m. intermedia, living in the Southern hemisphere. B. m. brevicauda is also known as the pygmy blue whale, and, as the name suggests, is the smallest subspecies.
These whales have a somewhat narrower and thinner body than many other whales that are more compact in shape. The larger subspecies can grow to be as long as 30 meters,
with several non-scientific recordings measuring even 33 meters. Females are usually longer and heavier than males, and specimens living in the Southern hemisphere are usually larger than their Northern counterparts. The head of a blue whale is flat and shaped like a U, with a prominent ridge which runs from one of the blowhole to the corners of the mouth.
There are also between 70 and 118 grooves, which are also called ventral plates that run along the body from the throat. The mouth is large and can be extremely flexible. The mouth has around 300 baleen plates, which are comb-shaped keratin structures with the role of filtering water and retain food. Adult whales can reach 180 tons in weight.
These whales feed almost exclusively on krill, small crustaceans that make up large amounts of zooplankton. A single blue whale can eat up to 40 million krill in just one day. The Southern Hemisphere is richer in krill, and an adult whale can consume up to 3,600 kilograms of krill in one day. It is common for the whales to consume food equivalent to as much as 90 times more energy than they expend in a day and build up reserves that they will use after mating. Since krill usually descent during the day and go up during the night, whales usually feed during the day at depths lower than 100 meters and only come to the surface at night. Whales are mammals so they have to breathe air, coming up to the surface every 10 minutes and use their blowholes.
Little is known about mating habits of these whales. Females give birth every 2 or 3 years after a gestation of 10 to 12 months. Calfs measure 7 meters in length and weigh 2.5 tons at birth. Calves will drink up to 500 liters of milk each day, with each kilogram having an energy content of 18,300 kJ. It will be weaned after 6 months, and it will reach sexual maturity in 5 to 10 years. A blue whale will continue to grow in size and weight and live up to 80 years.
The bowhead whale is the only member of the genus Balaena of the family Balaenidae. Members of the parvorder Mysticeti, these whales have baleen plates to filter water so they are filter feeders. They live exclusively in the Arctic and sub-Artctic waters and they have the largest mouth of any animal known on Earth.
This whale belongs to the monotypic genus Balaena, meaning that it is the only member. These whales are closely related to right whales of the genus Eubalaena which belong to the same family Balaenidae. First described by Linnaeus in 1758, the bowhead whale was given the binomial name Balaena mysticetus due to it being confused with right whales.
While not the largest-bodied mammals, these whales have the largest mouth in the animal kingdom. The head can measure a third of the entire body, with bowheads being able to
grow as long as 18 meters in length. Females are larger than males as well as heavier, with record weights of up to 100 tons. Bowheads can only be found in the Arctic and-subarctic Ocean, so they have special adaptation for the environment. Their triangular heads are extremely strong at they can pierce through 60 centimeters of ice to breathe. They also have the thickest blubber of all animals, with up to 50 centimeters of blubber.
Bowheads use their baleen plates to filter food. The plates are the longest of any whale, measuring over 3 meters. These are made of keratin, a protein found in fingernails and hair. These whales swim slowly through the water and take in large amounts of water that is rich in crustaceans such as amphipods and copepods. Their large mouths enable them to filter a large quantity of food, with a daily average of 2,000 kilograms consumed. While these whales can swim at speeds up to 10 km per hour, they usually slow down to about 1-2 meters per second when feeding.
A bowhead whale female can give birth to a calf every 3 to 4 years. Breeding has been observed from August to March, with a gestational period of 12 to 14 months. Calf measure 4.5 meters in length and weigh about a ton when born. They will such milk for about a year, after which they will measure almost 9 meters. To survive in the extremely cold waters of the Arctic Ocean, they are born with a thick layer of blubber. Calves can swim 30 minutes after being born.
Bowheads are the longest-living mammals in the world, with recorded ages of over 200 years. Whales have been found with harpoons that were manufactured more than 100 years ago. Although it has been thought that the more cells an animal has, the higher the risk of cancer and aging, it appears that bowheads have highly effective DNA repair mechanisms which have been associated with several genes. The oldest recorded bowhead whale was 211 years old.
The gray whale is a baleen whale which is the sole member of the genus Eschrichtius. It is a large whale which can reach sizes of 15 meters and weigh up to 40 tons. This species lives mostly in the North Atlantic Asian coastline and in few numbers on the North American coastline.
By the scientific name Eschrichtius robustus, this whale is the only member of its genus and family Eschricthiidae. Firstly described by John Edward Gray in 1865, this whale is closely related to rorquals of the family Balaenopteridae such as the fin whale and the humpback whale and to a lesser extend to minke whales.
The popular name of the gray whale comes from the characteristic gray patterns that can be observed on the skin. These are either ecto-parasites such as crustaceans and whale lice or the scars left by such parasites when they drop off as the whales reach cold waters during their annual migration. These whales can measure from 13 to 15 meters in length, with females being slightly larger than males. These whales can reach 40 tons in weight. The baleen plates are unusually short and they are adapted to the unique feeding habits of scooping the sediments at the bottom of the coastal waters. The whales lack a dorsal fin but they have between 6 and 12 dorsal crenulations or so-called knuckles.
Opposite to most other baleen whales which feed by swimming with their mouths open to capture large amounts of prey and water, these whales are benthic feeders. This means that they rely almost exclusively on crustaceans that live in the sediments on the sea floor. When feeding, the whales turn to one side which is usually the right one and scoop up large amounts of sediment along with crustaceans. This turning usually leads to eyesight loss on the side used for feeding. This unique feeding behavior is also the reason why the gray whale is more reliant on coastal waters than most other baleen whales. The main feeding waters are in the Northern parts of the Pacific Ocean, with the warmer Southern parts being reserved for giving birth.
The breeding behavior of these whales is complex, and it has been observed from late November to early December. Females usually reach oestrus synchronously and the male testes also grow in size during this period. The females breed biannually, and it is common for them to have more than one mate. The females give birth to calves after a 13 months and a half gestational period. The calf measures 4 meters at birth. After feeding on the high energy 53 percent fat milk in quantities between 700 and 1100 liters per day, the calve will be weaned after 7 months.
The ovulation period of the females usually occurs according to this species patterns of annual migration. These whales typically travel between 8 and 11 thousand kilometers to cold waters where they feed and to warmer waters to give birth. Thus, the gray whale has the longest annual migration known for mammals, amounting between 16,000 and 22,000 kilometers on a year-long round trip.
Humpback whales are the Baleen whales that measure about 16 meters/52 feet long. They can live as long as 45 years. The humpback whales have derived this name from the manner they arch backwards before diving. When they do this, it is truly the most exciting thing to watch the way these humpback whales effortlessly do such kind of graceful acrobatic moves in the sea.
Yes, sad but true. The humpback whales have been declared as the 3rd most endangered species among the big whales. These endangered species have reduced to a considerable extent and they are just less then 50,000 humpback whales alive in Southern area. For conserving these most beautiful species, lots of measures have been taken for their protection. These massive mammals are protected by marine mammal protection Act and therefore a visitor won’t be allowed to come closer than hundred yards. Even if you maintain 100 yards distance, you will still be able to feel the beauty and power of such massive humpback whales and this will surely become one of the most memorable sights of your lifetime.
Patience is the key to a perfect humpback whale watching experience. Firstly the best tool to watch these splendid creatures is through binoculars. Once you have these binoculars, you need to scan the area and may be in half an hour’s time, you will be able to locate cloudy spewing water rising above the sea level. As the humpback whales need to breathe out after every seven to twenty minutes, they will be seen spraying the water they exhale from the blow holes. So, the moment you are able to locate the water spray, start focusing over there to find out the amazing humpback whales and cherish this unforgettable experience all throughout your life.
When these humpback whales are in a good mood, they might play games with the visitors. It’s not that they can get trained for entertaining people, but they entertain the visitors in their own natural way. The humpback whales will poke their heads above the sea level for locate the scene. This behavior of the humpback whales is called as the Spy hop which actually means their manner of showing off. At times humpback whales are even seen leaping out of water completely. In rare cases, they even exchange nods by waving their side fins or slamming their tails towards the visitors. The visitors are all too happy to see this pleasant site of humpback whales responding in this memorable manner. These gestures of the humpback whales make the public feel that these humpback whales are greeting the visitors by saying Hi.
One of the best ways of watching these gigantic Humpback whales is to go right in their area and this can be done by taking a cruise or with the help of a snorkel or a dive boat in winter season. If you are adventurous, then you can even view Humpback whales on the rafting expedition. And there are lots of places that have such arrangements for the visitors.
These majestic humpback whales have their special mode of communication trough different sounds which forms a perplexing sound series. Even the Hydrophones are available on the humpback whale watching charters which will enable the visitors to enjoy and hear complex sounds of such amazing mammals.
The narwhale is a species of whale belonging to the Monodontidae family. Considered to be a white whale, the species has the distinctive feature of a helical tusk which may grow in size from 1,5 to 3 or more meters. These whales can be found in Artic waters for most of the year, with migratory patterns to warmer waters for breeding.
The narwhale, alongside the beluga whale, are white whales, and the only two extant species of the Monodontidate family, translated into one single tooth. This family belongs to the superfamily Delphinoidea or ocean dolphins within the parvorder Odontoceti, or toothed whales, alongside dolphins and purpoises.
These whales exhibit strong sexual dimorphism. Males are typically larger than females, reaching 5.5 meters in length but with an average of 4 meters. Females average 3.5 meters in length. Invidviduals may weight anywhere from 800 to 1,600 kg.
The distinctive characteristic of these whales is the large tusk that may extend from 1.5 to 3.1 meters in length. It is not a real tusk, but actually a canine, the only one these whales have, protruding from the upper left jaw and forming a helical left turn tusk. These tusks are innerved and they are thought to be used to test the quality of water. They are also occasionally used by males when fighting, a process called tusking. Some males may develop two tusks with a chance of 1 in 500 cases, and females may also develop one, with a 15 percent chance. However, female tusks are considerably shorter than those of males.
Narwhale populations inhabit the Arctic seas all year round. They are found predominantly in Russian waters and the Atlantic. Populations can be found from the Hudson Bay to the East Coast of Greenland to Svalbald. It has been proven that these whales can survive at depths of 1,500 meters in dives lasting from a few minutes to as much as 25 minutes. This comprises the descent, the time spent on the seabed as well as the ascent, as the depths involved require a slower transit due to the increased pressure at lower depths. Compared to many other whales, the species has a relatively specialized diet. The diet is composed mainly of Arctic cod and Greenland halibut, with sometimes cuttlefish, small squid and shrimp. However, this diet is mainly characteristic to the warmer season, while in winter these whales may rely more on benthic prey such as flatfish.
These whales usually live in groups or pods of 10 to 20 members. However, groups with as many as 500 may be observed in large aggregations which occur during the breeding season. Before mating, males may rub their tusks in an action called tusking to display dominance hierarchy and have increased chances of mating. Adults usually mate from April to May. Gestation usually lasts for about 14 months. The calves measure 1.6 meters on average, will suckle for 20 months and will spend a long time with the pod to learn survival skills. Narwhale females will reach sexual maturity in 5 to 8 years while males in 11 to 13 years.
Orca Killer Whale
The orca whale is commonly known as the Killer whale and they completely rule the sea. They are so powerful that they get only endangered by the human beings and for all the other sea creatures; they could be a complete threat. The orca whales are predators in true sense and also attack the other whale types. They rule the water and are one of the majestic creatures of the ocean and one can find loads of public traveling from all over the world to have a glimpse of this attacker, but of course all these visitors do maintain a safe distance.
Orca whales are called as whales, but actually they belong to a dolphin family. The orca whales are around 27 – 33 feet in length and do weigh around 12,000 pounds on maturity. The male orca whales are larger than the female orca whales and while the life expectancy of a male orca whale is 60 years, or the female it is 90 years. The orca whales have random white patches with a shiny black background. They have round heads and distinctive beaks. The Orca whales have sickle shaped dorsal fins and big flippers which is a typical feature in all kinds of dolphins.
The orca whales can travel at the speed of 30 miles every hour and they live in pods. The pods of orca whales are small and they are with the close family members. These pods are grouped from 6 to 40 orca whales and they stay together for their entire lives. All the pod members are very supportive to the calves and they also protect the injured and he sick members. There are two pod types which have different food preferences and different hunting methods. One is the resident pods that hunt fish and the other is the transient pods and hunts and kills the marine mammals.
On a surface of warm and shallow waters, the orca whales breed from winter up to the early spring season. Their gestational period is around 17 months. The calves are born from October to march. Within just thirty minutes of their birth, they baby orcas start swimming and weigh around 400 pounds and are 6 – 8 feet long. In majority o the cases, a female Orca whale gives birth to a single calf, but in rare cases, even the twins are seen. Orca whales have a single blow hole and breathe air above the water surface with the help of their blow hole. The blow hole is located above their eyes on top of the head.
Yes, they create lots of sounds such as whistles, screams and the clicks. This is their mode of communication with the other pod members when they are hunting prey and mating. One distinct quality of these orca whales is that different pods make different sounds and have their own accents so that each pod member recognizes each other. The orca whales are the most intelligent sea creatures and they have their own hunting techniques.
A pilot whale, also called black fish, is any of the two members of the genus Globicephala belonging to the family Delphinidae, or ocean dolphins. There are two extant species, the short-finned and long-finned whale, with a habitat ranging from the poles to the equatorial waters. These whales are highly social and live in pods of up to 100 members.
There are two species belonging to the genus Globicephala: G. melas or the long-finned, and G. macrorhyncus – the short-finned. They are the only two extant species of the genus which are part of The name of the animal comes from the idea that the pods were coordinated or piloted by a leader, a fact that has been disproven in the past few decades.
The differences between the two species are small, and scientists have a hard time distinguishing one from another. It was thought that the long-finned whales had fewer tooth, but is has been proven that these traits are more closely related to populations and not species. However, short-finned whales inhabit the warmer waters from the subtropics to the equator while the long-finned ones the subarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. The bodies of the whales are more compact than that of other members of the family, with strong sexual dimorphism. Males are larger and heavier, reaching 6.5 meters and 2,300 kilograms, with females usually measuring 1 meter and 1,000 kg less. The head of the pilot whale is distinctively large and bulbous with the shape of a melon. Usually males can live up to 45 years with females reaching 60 years of age or even more.
These whales feed mostly on small and medium-sized squid. However, the long-finned whales in particular may feed on ocean fish such as cod, mackerel, herring, spiny dogfish and even hake. These whales usually take several deep breaths before diving. They can usually last for 10 minutes without returning to the surface. While these animals are capable of diving at depths of over 600 meters, they rarely go outside the 30 to 60 range, perhaps explained by the abundance of fish. Only the Northern populations such as those near the Faroe Islands may dive deeper to reach squid.
These whales hunt in fast sprints, making them distinctive to most other deep diving mammals that conserve their energy when hunting. They hunt by echolocation, meaning that they emit sounds which bounce off prey and back to them where they have special organs that help them estimate the distance and speed of other organisms.
Pilot whale species are highly social who usually live in groups of 10 to 30 members, and sometimes up to 100 members. They usually form highly stable social groups where they interact with one another. It has been observed that members are more likely to help close kin compared to other members of the group. Both of these species are polygynous, meaning that males may mate with more females without having control over them such as in a harem. Gestation usually takes 12 to 16 months, with the new born calves being protected and tended for by other females of the group. Pilot whale calves will reach sexual maturity in 9 to 12 years.
A right whale is one of the three species of baleen whales belonging to the genus Eubalaena. This species is one of the largest on Earth, after blue whales and bowheads. These whales have distinctive skin patches, are docile and prefer shallower waters near shorelines.
There are 3 species of these whales that belong to the genus Eubalaena. Their popular name comes from whalers which said that this is the right type of whale to hunt due to their docile nature, large amount of blubber and coastal tendencies. Eubalaena glacialis is the North Atlantic whale, E. japonica is the North Pacific whale and E. australis the Southern whale. The species belong to the family Balaenidae alongside bowhead whales.
These whales are large with a robust head. They present distinctive callosities or rough patches of skin mostly on the head, with distinctive patterns. These are actually caused by whale lice that are actually parasitic crustaceans. The patterns are unique to each whale and so they are helpful for scientific studies.
An adult right whale may measure between 11 and 18 meters in length, with typical lengths ranging from 13 to 16 meters. The body is compact with a girth of up to 60 percent of the length. Contrary to most other baleen whales, they do not have a dorsal fin. These whales can weigh up to 90 tons, with males having the largest and heaviest penises being 2 meters long and weighing 500 kilograms. The baleen plates can be around 200 or 300 and they are usually about 2 meters long.
These whales are filter feeders. They swim at very low speeds with their mouth open, filling it with large amounts of water as well as zooplankton rich in crustaceans such as copepods or krill. With the help of the baleen plates, the whale expels all water and retains the prey which they then swallow through an opening that is smaller than a beach ball. The whales search for waters that have enough prey which must be large enough to be retained by the baleen plates as well as slow enough to be unable to escape, being that these whales are very slow swimmers with a top speed of less than 10 kilometers per hour.
These whales prefer colder waters and thus the warm equatorial waters prevent the Northern species to mix with the Southern ones. In the North Atlantic, mating seasons have been observed throughout the year. There are usually groups of up to 20 males which typically surround just one female. She sits with the belly up and the males stroke it with their flippers. These males do not exhibit the aggressive behavior of humpback whales. Females breed once every three of four years. They give birth after a gestational period of about one year. Calves are 4 to 6 meters long and weigh almost a ton. The calf will double its length within the first year of its life. The oldest known right whale was 70 years old, but some individuals may live far longer.
The sperm whale, also called cachalot, is the largest toothed whale and the largest toothed predator on the planet. With a distinctive appearance and block-shaped head, this species is easily recognizable. These whales are cosmopolitan species meaning that they inhabit most waters around the world, from the poles to the equator. The species is the second deepest diving animal, with recorded depths of over 2,000 meters.
The sperm whale, or Physeter macrocephalus, is the sole member of the genus Physeter and the only extant species of the family Physeteridae. Alongside the pygmy whale and dwarf sperm whale, it is member of the superfamily Physeteroidea within the parvorder Odontoceti, or toothed whales along with dolphins and porpoises. The term sperm is not related to its semen, but a cut from the term spermaceti which is a waxy substance found in the animal’s head which is thought to be related either to buoyancy control or echolocation.
P. macrocephalus is the largest toothed whales, with male average sizes of 16 to 18 meters. The species present strong sexual dimorphism, meaning that males and females have large anatomical differences. For example, males can be 30 to 50 percent longer than females and maybe even 3 times as massive. Males have been found to measure 20 meters, with some jawbones found leading scientists to estimate specimens of more than 24 meters long.
The head of the whale is block-shaped and can account for one third to one fourth of the animal’s length. The jawbone is long and has 18 to 24 teeth. Despite being functional, these teeth are thought not to be needed for feeding and are probably used by males when fighting. Adult males can reach weights of over 50 tons. The ribs are connected to the spine by a flexible type of cartilage which allows the animal to dive at great depths.
The sperm whale feeds mostly on squid, but may feed on the larger giant squid or colossal squid as well octopuses or even fish such as rays. Giant squid sucker scars have been found on the skin of cachalots, implying that they may battle these largest invertebrates on occasion. Known as the second deepest diving mammal after Cuvier’s beaked whale, the cachalot can reach depths of 2,200 meters. It has been observed that these animals mostly hunt upside down at greater depths, as they are able to distinguish the silhouettes of squid and other prey. Usually, dives can take as much as an hour, which is more than what most whales can achieve. Cachalots hunt through echolocation.
Females reproduce every 4 to 20 years after reaching sexual maturity at 9 years of age. After a 14 to 16 month gestational period females give birth to calves that may suckle for 19 to 42 months. Contrary to most other whales, the calves may be protected and raised for as long as a decade. Females and young males live in pods and protect the weaker sexes while the adult males live separately. It has been estimated that a sperm whale can live for 70 years or more.
Whale Sharks are like gentle beasts and they are the majestic giants in ocean similar to a huge bus size. They are considered to be the largest ocean fish, and even one of the largest shark species. In other words, they are sharks and not whales but people address them as Whale Sharks as they appear like whales. They have gigantic size hence people misaddress them as whales. They swim approximately 3 mph. Sharks eat plankton, jellyfish as they get jelly fish in literally found in tons during mating season each year. Jelly fishes are one of Whale Shark’s favorite meals. Whale Sharks are very attractive with huge fat lips, fins and tail. They have a real long life to live as they survive for 100 to 150 yrs long.
The word “Whale Shark” puts fright of God for an individual’s mind instantly. In other words, Whale Shark is indeed a very good example of specie – “Shark”. Most importantly, out of 350 to 375 species of Sharks that swim in oceans, rivers and seas, 80% of the Sharks that don’t harm or cause any harm to humans and that includes the Whale Sharks.
Their length reaches about 60 feet long, commonly known as gentle giants. Whale Sharks eat shrimps, krill, fish eggs, jelly fish, plankton and various small fishes in ocean. This clearly indicates humans are not the only feeding habits of Whale Sharks. Sharks attacks are done only when it is provoked; sharks are not at all fatal for humans. Various injuries, accidents have happened due to people swimming too near to the fins and tail of the shark specie. A well experienced diver will also stay ten feet far from a powerful creature like Whale Sharks. In safe distance, these gentle giants of the ocean are known as inoffensive and docile.
They are rare to see and at the same time wonderful beauty present in oceans, seas and rivers as whale Shark is one of the biggest ocean fish. Whale Sharks are known to survive in around nine areas of world and they are not commonly seen elsewhere. One of the important factors that attract these Whale Sharks is the breeding of the 10,000 groupers. Whale Sharks enjoy the eggs coating by tasty caviar. The presence of the powerful gentle giants doesn’t only attract scientists and divers but also impresses tourists. Some places have ecotourism, which enable tourists to observe and watch Whale Sharks within natural habitat. Watching Whale Sharks closer within closed cabinets have encouraged various conservationist groups for promoting laws for protection for endangered specie called Whale Shark.
Whale Sharks are the less recognized sharks’ species, but recently scientists are really working hard on knowing more about these creatures to share their in-depth knowledge to the world. Awareness about Whale Sharks will make people understand that Sharks do not harm human beings.