Whale Facts and Information
Whale Facts and Information. Feeding, habitat, distribution, reproduction, anatomy and more. Facts about Grey whale, Blue whale, Humpback Whale, Beluga and others.
Introduction to Whales
Whales are extremely large forms of aquatic life, and they tend to fascinate us. They are generally considered to be harmless to humans, but many of the efforts of humans create risks for them. Sharing the habitat with humans has increased problems with injuries or death due to coming into contact with boats or with commercial fishing equipment.
The overall size of the whale depends on their species, location, and food supplies. They can be from 11 feet to almost 100 feet when fully grown. They can weigh up to 150 tons. The design of their bodies allows them to live in cold or warm water. When it is cold, they rely on the layers of blubber to offer them enough insulation. They have one or two blowholes at the top of the head that allows them to take in air. They rely on their flukes and fins to help them move with ease through the water.
They live in all of the oceans around the world. Some species of whales prefer the colder regions by the Arctic. Others enjoy the sub-tropic or tropic regions. Migration is common with most species so there will be times when they move from one location to the next. You will find them in many sea areas that are adjoined to the oceans. Some species live in the deeper waters while others prefer coastal areas.
When it comes to feeding, there are some differences among the species of whales. There are the Toothed Whales that will use echolocation to help them identify fish and other forms of aquatic life that they can consume. There are also whales that are categorized as filter feeders. They take in water and small sources of food such as krill. The water and debris are filtered out and they consume the small food sources.
Whales are believed to be very intelligent, and they have the ability to feel a variety of emotions that are similar to those of humans. This includes grief and happiness. They do form strong bonds with each other, especially between the mothers and their young. Whales have been observed taking part in behaviors such as teaching, learning, and problem solving.
Some species of whales are very curious about boats and people. This can put them at risk though of being harmed. Whales have been taught by humans in captivity to perform a variety of tricks and behaviors.
Whales do sleep, but they would drown if their entire brain rested at once. It is believed that only one side of it rests at a time. This allows them to get their rest but still to consciously go to the surface for air as they need to. This could account for why so many people think that whales don’t sleep.
Communication among whales may be vocal. Many species use various sounds and songs to communicate. Others though use echolocation to help them successfully communicate with each other. Mimicking the behaviors of each other and touching are also methods of communication. Whales may spend time alone or with groups. During migration, there tends to be large groups in given locations.
Whales are able to start mating when they are between 7 and 10 years of age. It depends on the species. There is a lack of information about what draws males and females to each other or what their mating rituals consist of. It is believed that the males have a hierarchy for mating and that the females often mate with more than one male.
After mating, the males and females will go their separate ways. It can take from 9 to 15 months for the young calf to arrive. It will be born tail first and know how to swim as soon as it arrives. They can be up to 15 feet long and weigh up to 2,200 pounds at birth. They drink milk for at least a year that is very fatty. This allows them to double in size by the time their first year of life has passed.
The young will form a very close bond to the mother, and after about a year start to move further and further away from her. She will have a new calf every 2 or 3 years. The future for many species of whales is at risk due to environmental factors including loss of habitat and pollution. They need large volumes of food, and when other forms of life are destroyed in the water it has a ripple effect on the entire food chain.
Even though it is illegal to hunt whales in many locations, it does continue to happen. While there are conservation efforts in place, there remains plenty to do. Some of these efforts focus on education. It is very expensive to keep whales in captivity. That has made reproduction programs in captivity very difficult to incorporate.