Found in all the oceans of the world, whales are members of the Cetacea order of marine mammals, which also includes Dolphins and Porpoises. Toothed Whales (Odontoceti) are predators eating a variety of marine wildlife, whereas Baleen Whales (Mysticeti) have a filter called a baleen used to sieve tiny food particles from the water.
- Scientists estimate that during feeding season, larger baleen whales eat approximately 4 percent of their body size.
- Humpback whales sometimes blow “bubble nets” to help them feed. This is done when the whale dives down and then swims in a spiral while releasing air from the blowholes. Doing this creates bubbles which form a tubular net. The whale gets in the centre of the bubble to eat the trapped prey. Several humpbacks can come up through the bubble net at one time to feed.
- The largest baleen whale is the blue whale. It is said that blue whales are the largest creatures - bigger than anything living or extinct.
- Baleen whales use their flippers to steer and their flukes (tails) to stop.
- Of the larger whales Blue, Fin and Sei Whales, the fastest can swim up to 18.6 miles per hour.
- Whales shed. Yes, it’s true - all whales shed. The Beluga whale, for example, sheds when it migrates to the North Pole. By rubbing against rocks, its old, yellowed skin comes off in large sheets, revealing new white skin underneath.
- Whales are Flexible. Because water, not the whale’s skeleton, supports its body, whale bones are light, flexible and spongy. (This is also why whales can grow so large.) Fat and oil in the bones enhance floating.
- Whales have been known to live as long as 100 years.
- Whales don’t actually sleep - they take catnaps. While one half of the brain is sleeping, the other signals it to come to the surface to breathe and keeps it alert to predators.
- Much like human fingerprints, the markings on each whale’s tail are unique. This helps researchers identify and study them.