Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Interesting facts about whales

Whales are mammals, meaning that they breathe air into lungs, are warm-blooded, and feed their young with milk.

Whales are descendants of land-living mammals of the Artiodactyl order. They enter the water about 50 millions years ago.

The Baleen whales are the largest whale suborder. These whales got their name by baleen, a sieve-like structure in the upper jaw made of keratin, which they use to filter plankton from the water.

The other whale suborder includes toothed whales. As the name suggests these whales use sharp teeth and prey on fish and squid.

Some whales can even reach the age of over 100 years, but average life span of whales is between 40-90 years.

The most predatory whales are orcas (killer whales) that even attack other whales. Some orcas even attack great white sharks.

Whale hunting has left many whale species seriously endangered, however despite of this some countries in the world (Japan, Norway) still hunt whales.

Large whales have been hunted commercially for whale oil, meat, baleen and ambergris since the 17th century, and most whales were killed in the beginning of the 20th century (more than 2 millions).

The largest of all whales is Blue Whale. Blue whale is the largest known mammal that has ever lived, and the largest living animal on Earth, his length is up to 35 m (105 ft) and weighs around 150 tons. Baby blue whale has heart that weighs around 500 kg.

Blue Whales despite their enormous size can reach speeds of 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) over short distances.

Adult whales can stay under water for about 30 minutes while baby whales only about 5 minutes.

Some whales communicate with each other using lyrical sounds, called whale songs. These whale songs can be heard more than 100 miles away. Whales can generate about 20,000 acoustic watts of sound at 163 decibels.

Female whales give birth to only a single baby whale (calf).

Whales swimming technique includes moving their tails up and down and using their flippers, which also enables them to turn.