Elephants, monkeys, bears, and other land-dwelling creatures are often the first mammals that come to mind. Marine mammals, on the other hand, come in a variety of species. There are approximately 6,495 species in the class Mammalia. Every terrestrial biome and every ocean across the globe is home to these diverse species.
Mammalian diversity is vast, and several have quite distinct adaptations that set them apart from one another. While it may be difficult to imagine that a naked mole rat and a gorilla are related, they both have similar traits that set them apart from other animal species.
Mammalian differences from other life on Earth, the diversity of mammals in our seas, and most importantly, where whales stand in this complex web will all be discussed in this essay. Are whales, then, mammals? Let’s find out!
The size of whales and their cetacean cousins varies greatly. The Vaquita, a little porpoise measuring 5 feet (1.4 meters) and weighing less than 88 pounds (40 kilograms), is the tiniest cetacean in the Gulf of California. It is on the verge of extinction.
The blue whale, at over 420,000 lbs (190,000 kg) and up to 80 ft (24 m) in length, is the biggest of all the whales.
What is a Mammal?
All animal life belongs to the kingdom Animalia. All animals that have a notochord at some point in their life are part of the phylum Chordata in the animal kingdom. The Mammalia class (class of mammals) belongs to the Vertebrata subphylum (those with backbones).
Monotremes, marsupials, and eutherians (sometimes called placental mammals) are three mammalian groups that exist. Several characteristics, notably the reproductive system of the animal, are used to define these groupings. Platypuses, echidnas, and their fossil predecessors are all egg-laying mammals that are monotremes.
Marsupials are animals that give birth to live offspring inside a pouch. Kangaroos, opossums, and Tasmanian devils are common examples of marsupials. The young of eutherians, or placentals, are nourished by a placenta during pregnancy at a late stage of development.
The longer development and delivery of a bigger baby are possible due to the specific physical traits of eutherians. “Placentals,” on the other hand, is a bit of a misnomer since marsupials also have one.
Interesting Facts About Whales
We could spend the entire month discussing all of the fascinating facts about whales! The facts that not only expand our understanding of whales as a whole but also broaden people’s knowledge of these magnificent creatures so that we can protect them are the most amazing whale facts.
Whales breathe oxygen, give birth to their young, drink milk, and have hair at some point in their lives, as do other mammals. Every day on the water provides an chance to educate our passengers about these beautiful creatures even more.
Joining us on a journey is the most amazing way to connect with these creatures, and we are grateful you are reading and following along with us here. Here are some more fascinating whale facts to read about.
Whales are Divided Into Two Main Groups
Baleen whales and razor-toothed whales are the two sorts of whales that exist. Baleen plates in the mouths of baleen whales, such as humpbacks and blue whales, work like teeth to filter out and eat huge volumes of krill, plankton, and crustaceans.
Orcas, belugas, and sperm whales all have teeth that allow them to eat bigger prey like fish and squid, unlike toothed whales such as orcas. Since they are more closely linked to their beaked counterparts, all dolphin families, including porpoises, are classified as whales.
Whales Can Hold Their Breaths For at Least 20 Minutes
Whales may spend up to 20 minutes underwater on average. Sperm whales have the most efficient respiratory system and can spend up to 90 minutes underwater. The record for the longest underwater stay by a mammal belongs to a Cuvier’s beaked whale. It lasted 138 minutes, to be precise.
Because of the high levels of hemoglobin and myoglobin in whales’ bodies, they are able to hold their breaths for significantly longer periods than most mammals.
In their blood and muscles, these proteins store oxygen. They tend to use oxygen more slowly because they have the ability to lower their heart rate and temporarily shut down some organs.
Whales Have the Longest Migrations of Any Mammal
Between their feeding and birthing areas, humpback whales may travel over 10,000 kilometers each year!
Blue Whales aren’t a True Blue in Color
The coloring and how blue whales are not really blue are both fascinating to many of our passengers.
Instead, as these gentle giants rise to the surface for a breath of fresh air, blue whales get their colorful names from the beautiful blue color of the water that surrounds them.
The beautiful blue glow of the water around them gives these beauties the appearance of being blue instead of their mottled gray color. Thousands of tiny diatoms on their skin create this lovely blue hue.
These same diatoms or planktonic photosynthesizers may build up on their stomachs and have a yellowish tinge to their undersides in the right conditions, such as in Antarctica.
If you do get the chance to see one, you’ll be among the 1% of individuals who have had that privilege. You may witness one all summer in Dana Point, California! Isn’t it nice? We agree.
Humpback Whales Dont Eat for Most of The Year
When they migrate from their tropical breeding grounds to the Antarctic to feed on krill, humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere live off their fat reserves for 5.5-7.5 months each year.
Killer Whales Are Part of The Dolphin Family
They are, in reality, the Delphinidae family’s biggest member. All dolphin species, as well as other larger species like long-finned pilot whales and false killer whales, are members of this family’s common names, which include “whale” rather than “dolphin.”
Appearance, diet, habitat, genetics, and behavior vary among the North Pacific killer whale ecotypes. These species are not known to interbreed, despite the fact that they share at least part of their habitats. Killer whales that live in the area feed on a wide range of fish, mostly salmon.
Chinook salmon, some of which are endangered, are preferred prey by Southern Resident killer whales. Other marine mammals, such as seals and squid, are eaten by transient (or bigg’s) killer whales.
Killer whales’ teeth are worn down over time due to sharks’ rough skin, according to scientists, and the creatures primarily eat sharks.
An specialized team of killer whale experts set off from Chile’s southern tip in January 2019 to investigate for a possible new type of killer whale in some of the world’s harshest seas.
Cetaceans Have Unique Cultures
Culture is commonly regarded as a human experience because of the shared values and behaviors passed from generation to generation. Nonetheless, several cetacean species have been discovered to have culture, from complex social organizations and communication to learned behaviors.
Humpback whale songs and sea sponge foraging tools are two examples of creatures that use sound to communicate.
Gray Whales Can Travel Over 14,000 Milesa Round Trip
Eschrichtius robustus, sometimes known as the gray whale, is a highly unique whale species that comes to Dana Point, California every year during the late autumn and early spring.
Every single year for part of their migration from the Bering Sea to Baja to give birth to their young, these crusty creatures grace our presence.
Gray whales will not eat throughout their entire trip south to warmer seas, which is fascinating and incredible to us. Instead, to power their journey, they rely on blubber or body fat. That’s incredible, isn’t it?
They Can be Pretty Fast Swimmers
Dall’s porpoises have been known to reach speeds of 34 miles per hour over short distances, making them the fastest swimmers among small cetaceans. Each jaw contains 38 to 56 tiny, spade-shaped teeth (about the size of a grain or rice grain) that are suited for grabbing.
Whales Eat Some Of The Smallest Prey on Earth
A little more on the weird side are our final whale facts, which are interesting to see from the water. The color of whale poop cannot be left out as we wrap up our list. Yes, we said it, and we will say it again: “poop.” Rorqual whales eat krill invertebrates for the majority of their lives.
In Norwegian, krill means “whale food,” and it refers to any member of the Euphausiacea crustacean order.
These little invertebrates are crimson, and after being digested by whales, they produce a crimson substance in the water. The high iron content in krill causes whale feces to be red.
Blue whales may evacuate up to roughly 55 gallons or 200 liters of feces in a single bowel movement since they consume up to 3 tons of krill each day. That’s a little weird, but it’s also cool. Now that’s a whale fact.
We can’t wait to see you out on a whale watching cruise so that we can share more fascinating (and weird) whale facts with you when we meet in person, because many whale species visit our seas all year.
Not All Cetaceans Live in Groups, or Pods
We hear a lot about whale “pods,” but that isn’t always the term you want to use. A family group of related animals is referred to as a pod.
Resident Killer Whales, who live in matriarchal family units, are one of the most common groupings of toothed whales. Large whales, on the other hand, are generally solitary and wait for mating or foraging grounds. They sometimes congregate in small groups.
Sperm Whales Have The Biggest Brains Of Any Animal On Earth
The fact that whales have a large brain is fascinating to even our youngest passengers. Physeter macrocephalus or sperm whale is the world’s biggest of the toothed whales and produces the world’s biggest brain, while blue whale may hold the heavyweight title and prize for longest length.
The sperm whale’s brain weighs around five times as much as a human brain and is easily identifiable by its enormous, uniquely formed skull holding a rare substance named spermaceti.
Because of a lack of knowledge about these amazing creatures due to their cryptic surface behaviors, the degree of their extremely specialized intelligence is still a mystery.
Bryde’s Whales Can Blow Water 10 to 13 Feet Into The Air When At The Water’s Surface
While underwater, they may also exhale. Moreover, while swimming, Bryde’s (pronounced “broodus”) whales may alter course at any moment. They produce low-frequency moans that are sometimes brief and powerful.
Two subspecies and a new species have been discovered since they were previously thought to be monotypic (belonging to one species).
The bigger kind, found mostly in pelagic seas, is the Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni brydei). The Indian and western Pacific oceans, primarily in coastal waters, are home to Bryde’s/Eden’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni edeni).
Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai) has just been named after the Bryde’s whale, which was previously known as “pygmy form.” In the Gulf of Mexico, a new species was recently discovered known as Rice’s whale. In the Gulf of Mexico, scientists believe that there are less than 100 Rice’s whales.
Whales Communicate Through Using Sound
How whales communicate with one another is as fascinating to audiologists and musical conductors as it is to marine biologists. Baleen whales communicate through moans, grunts, and groans rather than a series of distinct clicks and whistles, as opposed toothed whales do. It’s “all about the bass, no treble” for baleen whales.
Their cries may travel farther distances with less distortion since to the lower frequencies. The most lovely singing songs of all the whale species are heard from humpback whales, who may be seen all year in Dana Point. A symphony of sounds lies hidden beneath the water, and humpback males take center stage.
These enormous giants are the record holders for singing the longest songs, with some sonnets lasting 10 minutes on repeat for hours and others lasting an entire day.
The travels of blue whales are known for their lengthy distances, which make their voices one of the longest to migrate. Other blue whales up to 500 miles away can hear their moans because their frequency is too low for human ears to detect.
Whales Help To Reduce Climate Change
How does this happen? They defecate with their poo! Whales mix nutrients in the ocean with their poop, which acts as a fertilizer for phytoplankton, as they swim long distances through the ocean diving deep down and resurfacing.
Phytoplankton are tiny marine plants that extract carbon from the air while releasing oxygen. Every breath we take contains oxygen produced by the ocean, as phytoplankton produce 50 to 85% of the oxygen we breathe.
Sperm Whales Are The Loudest Animals On Earth
Sperm whales don’t boast only the largest brain. Why whale facts interesting enough to make our top list had to include the fact that these whales are louder than a jet aircraft taking off in flight, because sperm whales have the loudest sound on Earth.
If heard in close proximity, the sperm whale’s communicative nature may physically blow out a human’s eardrums and even vibrate the human body to death.
When feeding on huge Squid, which can grow to be over 40 feet long, this comes in handy. When it comes to what’s on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their power-pact sound can stun their prey, giving them the upper hand.
Usually Only Male Narwhals Have A Tusk That Develops From A Tooth
The tusk is also a sensory tool used to detect changes in the sea around them; it’s used for foraging, displays of dominance, and perhaps fighting and breaking ice.
A 60,000 Pound Whale Can Jump Fully Out Of The Water
Whales may extend their entire bodies completely out of the water, which is both fascinating and mind-blowing. Breaching is when whales leap out of the water, and both whales and dolphins are well-known for this incredibly acrobatic and athletic display.
Although every whale can breach, it isn’t always easy. Every whale will not leap out of the ocean with its colossal body. It’s “whaley” amazing when a whale is air-bound! The acrobatic nature of Humpback whales, as well as the fact that their 60,000-pound massive body launches out of the water, makes whale facts interesting.
Adding it to our list of whale facts is a no-brainer, as one of our most frequently asked questions is “why do whales breach.”
Whales of up to 400,000 pounds depending on the species and when they breach, they leave passengers with cameras ready and completely awe-struck; breaching behaviors that we see in Dana Point, California, the Whale Watching Capital of the World.
Whale Poop is Powerful
Whale excrement, on the other hand, has been discovered to be a natural “nutrient pump” for rainforest enrichment. The plankton, which are tiny creatures that ultimately become food for bigger fish, feed on the whale dung because of its nutrients. Seabirds eat these creatures, which excrete their own waste on land or feed larger migratory birds.
If the animals that contain these nutrients are eaten by predators from the land, such as birds or cats, they may also reach to the rainforest and land. Massive biomes like the Amazon rely heavily on these ocean nutrients.
Whales Have Multiple Stomachs
Whales with multiple stomachs are among the most unbelievable whale facts. Surprisingly, the largest member of the beaked whale family, Berardius bairdii, often known as Baird’s whale, has more stomachs than other whales and dolphins.
Because each Baird’s whale has 13 stomachs, we believe you’ll find these following whale facts intriguing and astonishing. YES, the number 13 is correct, as there are 13 stomachs! The most frequent follow-up query is, “What do they do with all of them?” and the answer is simple: They digest them all.
These dolphin doppelgangers feed on deep-sea squid from the deepest parts of the ocean and range from 35 to 42 feet in length, with the densest bones of all mammals. In addition, they are excellent deep divers who may go as much as 3,300 feet to 10,000 feet for food.
Baird’s whales, like Sperm whales and other Odontecetes toothed whale species, may stay underwater for up to 60 minutes, similar to the extended breath-holding of those creatures.
Whales Do Not Chew Their Food
The way whales hunt and consume their prey is fascinating to our passengers. These following whale facts will surprise you because of their colossal dimensions.
The main food of rorqual whales is krill, which is one of the tiniest creatures on the planet. Baleen, a keratin-like set of plates lining the mouth of Rorqual whales in lieu of teeth, is a feature.
The food inside of a whale’s mouth is filtered by the baleen plates, which act like a sieve. Baleen plates keep a whale’s meal source inside a whale’s mouth, much like sieves let water out of the pot.
The length of baleen plates varies depending on the type of whale, making these subsequent groups of whale facts intriguing! The exquisite and distinctive asymmetric coloring of fin whales has made them famous.
One side of their lower jaw is white, while the other is gray to dark charcoal in color. The asymmetry inside their mouths continues onto the baleen plates. The right side has black baleen, whereas the left side has cream-colored baleen. These whale statistics are now works of art!