1.Whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on earth and are the largest animals that live in the ocean. Whales are even bigger than the largest dinosaur. It is believed that millions of years ago, whales probably walked upon land. Their back legs disappeared and their front legs became flippers. Blue whales can weigh over 150 tons and be over 100 feet in length. Humpback Whales are also big, weighing up to 45 tons. Flippers of the humpback whale can be as long as 15 feet.
2. Whales are mammals, so they feed milk to their babies and breathe air. Since whales are not fish they do not have gills, so they cannot breathe under water. They must come up to the surface of the water to get air. The air is breathed in and out through their “blowhole,” which is on their back.
3. Whales live in large groups called “herds.” A baby whale is called a “calf.”
4. Blue whales and killer whales can be found in every ocean around the world. Whales “migrate” further than any other animal. They eat during the summer month building up layers of blubber. When the water begins to cool, the whales begin their migration to warmer waters. They do not eat during their migration. All they do is swim and rest for short periods of time. Sometimes, when whales are migrating, they swim very close to the shore and can be seen “blowing” and jumping out of the water. This jumping is called “breaching.
5. When whales sleep, they stay at the top of the water, with their blowhole above the surface. Sometimes, a whale will swim up to the surface of the water and quickly blow air out of their blowhole, making a fountain of watery mist, called a “blow.”
6. There are two different kinds of whales, the baleen and the toothed whale. Baleen whales are also called “toothless” whales. Instead of teeth, they have plates made of baleen in their jaws. Baleen is a very hard and strong substance and can be compared with the same substance that makes up the horns on some animals. Baleen is also called “whalebone.” Sea water passes through the baleen and krill (a kind of plankton) gets caught. Whales can eat as much as two tons of krill a day. The fin, gray, humpback, blue, bowhead, Bryde’s, right, minke, blue, and sei are baleen whales. Humpback whales are baleen whales. Baleen whales have two nostrils, or blowholes. Killer whales and dolphins are both members of the toothed whale group . Toothed whales have teeth instead of baleen. These whales include the beluga or white, bottlenose, narwhal, pilot and sperm whales. Toothed whales eat fish and plants. They have one nostril, or blowhole.
7. Scientists have determined that killer whales can live a maximum of 35 years. They can tell the age of a whale by looking at a cross-section of a killer whale's tooth. Killer whales, like other marine mammals, produce a periodic growth layer on the teeth. By counting these layers, scientists can estimate the animal's age.
8. You can tell an adult male from an adult female by the shape of their dorsal fin. A male's fin is very tall (up to 6 feet tall) and triangular shaped. A female is shorter (3 feet) and curves back toward the dorsal fin.
9. Whales swim by moving their tails up and down and using their flippers, which also help them to turn. Some whales, such as the sei, can swim more than 30 miles per hour.
10. All whales are very noisy. They squeak, moan, groan, and sigh to talk to each other. These underwater sounds can travel great distances. The sounds they make are called “Whale Song.” Whale are the loudest animals in the world.