interesting facts and trivia
- Whales and dolphins are not fish, they are mammals, like horses, dogs and people.
- 'Baleen Whales' are filter feeders. They feed by either skimming through water with their mouths open, or swallowing large quantities of food in water or sucking in gallons of water into their mouths, and then forcing it back out through strands of 'baleen' that hang down from their upper lip in the place of teeth. The baleen catches any plankton, krill or small fish that was in the water and the whale then eats it.
- The largest of the baleen whales is the famous Blue Whale. Blue whales are the largest animals that have EVER lived. The largest can grow up to 33 meters long and heavier than 180 tons.
- Some whales, called the 'Toothed Whales', have teeth that they use to catch and eat fish, usually swallowing the fish whole.
- The largest of the toothed whales is the Sperm Whale. The largest Sperm Whales can grow to up to18 meters long and as heavy as 57,000 kilos.
- Whales breathe through nostrils set on the top of their heads. These are called 'blow holes' and when a whale comes to the surface they exhale with such force that it can send water vapor spraying as high as 30 feet into the air.
- Humpbacks are renowned as 'singers'. They produce sophisticated songs made of complex set of notes in phrases, repeated continuously for 30 minutes or more.
- Many whales migrate with the seasons. They move from their summer feeding grounds in polar waters to winter breeding grounds in the tropics.
- Humpback whale migrations are among the longest known for any mammal species. They can travel 8,000 km each way.
- Dolphins are actually smaller toothed whales.
- Orcas, or 'Killer Whales' as they are often called, are actually the largest species of dolphin.
- Toothed whales, and some baleen whales, will often work together to catch food.
- Pods of orcas and other dolphin species will herd schools of fish together into a 'bait ball' and keep them from escaping while individual members of the pod dash in to snatch a mouthful.
- Humpback whales sometimes work together to surround schools of fish with nets of bubbles that they release underwater from their blowholes. While the fish are trapped inside this bubble net the humpback whales swim straight up with their mouths wide open, swallowing hundreds of kilos of fish all at once.
- Some species of dolphin live in fresh water rivers and lakes. These dolphins usually have very small eyes and limited vision because it is very difficult to see in the murky water of a river. Instead, these dolphins rely on their very accurate echolocation abilities to 'see' through the muddy water.
- Today most species of river dolphins are highly endangered. Their numbers have been severely depleted by hunting, pollution and the construction of hydroelectric dams that fragment their population.
- The Irrawaddy dolphin is one of the only dolphins that regularly spits water. They even use it to assist in
- Although large whales are now protected, many species of dolphin are still hunted around the world, and many tens of thousands die each year when they become entangled in fishing nets.
- Many dolphins show signs of high intelligence. Bottlenose dolphins in particular have been observed using tools to catch prey and teaching their calves to hunt. It is thought that these dolphins are at least as intelligent as Chimpanzees.
- Orcas are thought to be the fastest whale, able to speed along at up to 30 miles per hour!
- In addition to fish, Orcas have been known to eat seals, sea lions, sharks, sea birds and even other whales.
- The sperm whale can dive deeper than any other whale, reaching depths of up to 3,200 m or almost two miles down! Or they can stay down for more than an hour!
'Knobs' on a humpback whale's head.
Whale 'foot print'.