Whale | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Whale

In Greek, the word whale means «sea monster». This is not surprising, since whales are considered to be the largest marine inhabitants, classified as a very numerous group of cetaceans. In our time, the status of the name is not fully defined, since all cetaceans, with the exception of dolphins and porpoises, are included in this order.

Fact number one.

Blue whales are the largest of all cetaceans. On average, adults grow to 25 meters, and the largest — up to 33 meters, which is comparable to the height of a building 9-10 floors. Such giants can weigh up to 120-160 tons, although, of course, this is an exceptional rarity. The egg of a female blue whale is comparable in size to that of a mouse. At the same time, the male whale’s sex organ is up to three meters long. The blood vessels of an adult blue whale contain approximately 8,000 liters of blood, with the largest of these vessels, such as the aorta, having a diameter of up to 25-30 centimeters. The blue whale’s tongue has a mass of about 4 tons. But the diameter of its throat is only 10-12 centimeters! This, however, is quite enough, given the diet of these animals — they eat only plankton and krill, filtering sea water. The heart of a blue whale is comparable in size to a small car, and its mass reaches 600-800 kilograms. It is the largest heart of any mammal.

Fact number two.

Compared to other aquatic mammals, whales breathe with their lungs and are warm-blooded animals. In addition, whales feed their young with milk, and they also boast a very thick coat of hair.

Fact number three.

Whales, oddly enough, can drown. Their body density is slightly higher than the density of water, so they slowly sink while sleeping. To support themselves on the surface, they wave their powerful tail from time to time, thereby rising up. Whales never sleep entirely. They, unlike fish, cannot breathe underwater, and they need to rise to the surface from time to time to take a breath of air, so when they sleep, only half of their brain actually sleeps, while the other half remains awake. Whales breathe very slowly at rest, taking 1 to 4 exhalations per minute. When they are active, they breathe about twice as fast.

Fact number four.

Spending all their lives in seawater, whales do not drink it. More precisely, they never drink at all, getting all the moisture they need from their food.

Fact number five.

Many whale species are heavily overgrown with parasites that attach to their skin and grow right on top of it. Most of these parasites are small barnacle crustaceans.

Fact number six.

Pregnancy of a female blue whale lasts about 11 months, which is not a record- elephants, for example, last up to 22 months, which is twice as long. But, apparently, the connection with the size of the animal is not the most direct. A newborn calf is 6-9 meters long and weighs 2.5 to 3.5 tons. It grows quickly, absorbing up to a hundred liters of mother’s milk a day, and doubles in six months. Up to half of the whales’ mass is fat, which protects them from the cold. By the way, pregnant females before giving birth often try to go to warmer waters, because the fat layer of newborn calves is not well developed to protect them from the constantly cold water.

Fact number seven.

Whales communicate with each other not only by infrasound, but also by voice. The whales’ voices are the loudest in the world, these creatures can hear each other at a distance of tens of kilometers, and sensitive scientific equipment can record them at a distance of several hundred kilometers.

Fact number eight.

All whales are divided into baleen whales and toothed whales. Tooth whales have no teeth at all. Instead, baleen whales develop an average of 350 to 800 long and elastic horny plates in their jaws, forming a sort of comb through which to filter seawater. These horny plates are called whale whiskers.

Fact number nine.

All cetaceans have such an organ as a blowhole, the very aperture on the top, with the help of which they breathe and throw fountains of water into the air. The blowhole is a modified nostril.

Fact number ten.

There are about 80 species of whales in the world, although the exact number depends on the method of classification, since some species are very similar to each other. There were about three times as many in the past, but most of them went extinct millions of years ago.

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