Every creature on earth makes a contribution to its habitat. Whales are no different. Did you know that the movement of a whale rising from the depths of the ocean creates a phenomenon called a ‘whale pump’? This activity helps to create a healthier environment for other organisms, like plankton. For a more detailed, scientific explanation, go here. Beyond this fascinating discovery, whales are an amazing mammal. They live their lives in the sea, including the females giving birth and suckling their young. One more interesting fact: The blue whale is the largest animal to have ever lived on earth.

This is a 2-minute video of OMG, a whale breaching the surface. You have to wait for it, but it’s awesome! Here’s a 4-minute BBC video that begins with a male and female whale doing a lovely courting dance, but they are soon interrupted by other males and the battle is on. This 3-minute video is an amazing compilation of whales breaching the water.

FunFacts about Whales: (Source)  

  • Basic Information, quote: Whales are a widely distributed and diverse group of fully aquatic placental marine mammals. They are an informal grouping within the infraorder Cetacea, usually excluding dolphins and porpoises. Whales, dolphins and porpoises belong to the order Cetartiodactyla with even-toed ungulates and their closest living relatives are the hippopotamuses, having diverged about 40 million years ago. (Source)
  • Whales are a marine mammal.
  • Whales are descendants of land-dwelling mammals.
  • Whales live in the open ocean where they mate, give birth, suckle their young and live out their lives.
  • Whales cannot survive on land.
  • Whales have two flippers in front and a tail fin.
  • Whales can dive to great depths.
  • Whales range in size, quote: from the 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) and 135 kilograms (298 lb) dwarf sperm whale to the 29.9 metres (98 ft) and 190 metric tons (210 short tons) blue whale. (Source)
  • The blue whale was hunted almost to extinction until 1966 when the international community stepped in.
  • In several whale species, the female whale is larger than the male.
  • Whales are carnivorous and feed on fish, octopus, squid, crustaceans, molluscs and plankton.
  • Whales contribute a lot to the health of the ocean. Their excrement, which is liquid, is rich in iron and nitrogen. This remains at the surface of the ocean and feeds components of the plankton communities.
  • Whales also create what is called a ‘whale pump’. Capable of deep dives, when they return to the surface, this motion – the whale pump – brings nitrogen back to the surface of the ocean.
  • Even in death, whales serve the ocean when they sink to great depths. This is called a ‘whale fall’. They fall to the bottom, at levels below 3300 feet, where they slowly deteriorate. The process of decomposing supports a large diversity of ocean life. The entire process can last for decades for a single whale.
  • Whales must breath air to survive, but some whales can stay submerged for long periods of time. The sperm whale can stay below the surface for as long as 90 minutes.
  • Whales have blowholes (a type of nostril) at the top of their heads where they take in and expel air.
  • Whales are warm-blooded. The layer of fat beneath their skin called blubber keeps them warm even in arctic waters. They prefer the colder waters.
  • Whales have a great variety of vocalizations. The humpback whale is known for its songs. The humpback male will produce a song that can last for twenty minutes and which it will repeat for hours on end.
  • Whales migrate to the equator to give birth. This protects the young until they develop enough blubber to sustain them in colder waters.
  • Males mate with several females.
  • Females only mate every 2-3 years.
  • Calves are born in the open water and emerge tail first to prevent drowning.
  • Calves are born in the spring and summer months.
  • The female rears her calf alone.
  • Females nurse their calves for 1-2 years.
  • Whale-watching is a popular form of tourism around the world.

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Disclaimer: As with any food, herbal remedy, beverage or concept on this blog, be sure to contact your physician before eating, imbibing or using for medical purposes any substance discussed on this blog. Always err on the side of caution and keep yourself well-informed. ~ Caris Roane

(Photos from Pixabay ~ Pixabay is a free site, so feel free to share, pin and enjoy these wonderful photos.) 

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October Winners: Maureen D., Michelle W., Sherdina A., Sheryl P.!!!

September Winners: Caroline R. M., Shonda S., Kathy H., Helen P.!!!

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44 thoughts on “Whales

  1. I never knew that whales diving and coming back up was a way to cycle nitrogen to the surface. It’s interesting how much they do even for other sea creatures.

  2. What a huge coincidence. My daughter and I went on whale watching day trip just last week. We saw a mother and calf and then later on a very curious, very large whale played around and under the boat. It was incredible

    • Mary,
      It must have been an absolutely amazing experience. The good news is that whale-watching has become a more lucrative business than whale-hunting! Let’s hope it stays that way!

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  3. Awesome (animals) videos and pictures. I would love to see whales in person, that would be a dream come true. Definitely will be showing my grand daughter (3yrs old) this today.

  4. These majestic creatures are truly a wonder of nature. I have been fortunate enough to see the humpbacks with calves in person in Hawaii. They are nothing short of spectacular!

  5. They are truly breathtaking creatures. I have never been anywhere that I could see a whale “in person” but I’m certain it is truly something one never forgets. Thanks so much for sharing, Caris.

  6. Enjoyed all the pictures and videos. Have never seen a whale in person but they are such magnificent creatures – like watching a ballet. Would love to see one in person! AZ

  7. We took my great-niece for her first whale watching trip this past spring and were treated to one of our own California gray whales doing its version of the tail fluke wave at us. We were all excited!

  8. “Captain! There be whales!” Awesome creatures. I have had the opportunity to ‘whale watch’ though it was not a planned excursion. We were deep sea fishing. My first experience on the ocean. I didn’t know I would need some Dramamine. While the fishermen were on the lee side of the boat with their lines in the water, (this included my husband at the time, and my two kids) I was on the wind side trying very hard not to embarrass myself being sick. Because it was rather windy, I was by myself, but enjoyed a wonderful time watching the whales. They stayed with the boat almost the entire time we were out. It helped me not think about my rolling tummy – imagine that first video for four hours. We got back to shore where the fishermen were finally concerned about my welfare. I informed them I had been well entertained by the whales. Would you believe not a one of the fishermen saw a single whale? I was amazed they had missed the show. Like I said, the whales were with us most of the afternoon. One of the only times where being sick paid of off.

    As usual, amazing pictures. Thank you.

    • Pansy,
      It sounds like your sea-sickness became a HUGE blessing! Imagine, none of the others seeing the whales! You were blessed! (But soooo sorry you were sick…ugh!)

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  9. I lived on the MA coast for years and have been on numerous whale watching trips.

    I never tired of watching these magnificent creatures.

  10. I really enjoyed learning about how the whale contributes to the world! This blog has made me wonder how many different females give birth breech as a normal part of their lives!
    Sanford, Maine

  11. I have been whale watching and it was fun. My best experience was when we visited the Galapagos. We saw a whale breach several times. She had a baby with her and we think it may have been to warn us.

  12. Gracious! Did you see that whale come out of no where in the first video. I literally jumped. I’ve learned so much about whales here. I had the opportunity to see a beluga whale in an aquarium but nothing out in the ocean. Loved this blog!

    • Joyce,
      I sat there with my hands on my face ‘waiting-for-it’! What an amazing experience for these whale-watchers, but I swear I felt like I was right there! Fun!

      Buckeye, Arizona USA

  13. I have never been whale watching, but looks amazing. I liked all the photos could not just pick one. I am in nebraska, so no real whale watching for me lol.

  14. I saw whales breaching the day after a Massachusetts wedding, when the bride and groom took us out 15 miles from shore, initially to go fishing, but that changed when the opportunity to sight whales came. It was amazing.
    I did not know that hippos are their closest living relative. Thanks for sharing

  15. Whales are an awesome animal! Thanks for sharing the info and pictures. Elyzabeth Hampton from Kanas City, Kansas

  16. I am so fascinated by whales of all kinds and it is my dream to see one in the wild some day. I love, love, love all of the beautiful photographs but I especially love the one of the mama and baby whale. I have an affinity for orcas and I think that they are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of the photos, Caris.

  17. Whales are THE best. I’m always amazed with the videos that show how gentle they can be around humans. They are as curious about us as we are about them.

  18. I’ve never been whale watching, but I plan to some day. I didn’t realize that whales sank to the bottom of the ocean floor when they die. Interesting! My favorite photo(s) are the full body shot one when they’re jumping out of the water.

    I’m from Lone Tree, CO!

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