Facts about Whales

From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Fri Mar 24 2000 - 17:16:47 EST

>Question: We are doing an extra credit pogect in our biology class. Will
>you please send us any easy or difficult trivia questions for for our
>production of who wants to be a milionare. please send anything you have
Reply: Dear Emily,

The following listing are facts about whales that you can choose from to
create questions. Also search through WhaleNet for questions and answers.
Good luck! Kim

1. Sperm whales vocalize 24 hours a day, using echolocation for foraging,
codas for communication, and complete silence to escape danger from orcas
Sperm whales dive as deep as two miles below the surface and stay down
for up to an hour and a half
2. Sperm whales have teeth on their bottom jaw only. These teeth fit into
sockets on their upper jaw
Sperm whale's brains can weigh up to 20 pounds! The largest of any animal
that has walked or swam on earth
Blue whales reach lengths of 100ft or more, longer than 3 train cars
Blue whales are 6 times bigger than the biggest brontosaurs
Blue whales can weigh as much as 24 full grown elephants
3. The skeleton of a blue whale can weight more than 50,000 pounds
The largest animal on earth eats one of the smallest. A blue whale is
about 100 million times larger than krill
4. The largest recorded blue whale was 110 ft, 160 tons
Blue whales have hearts the size of a Volkswagen Bug
5. A five year old could crawl through an artery of a blue whale
6. The heart of a blue whale could weigh 4 thousand pounds (2 tons) and
could pump about 60 gallons with each beat. The heart valves could be the
size of a hubcap
7. A child could crawl through aorta (largest blood vessel leaving the heart)
8. They can slow down their heart to less than 10 beats per minute to help
store oxygen for deep or long dives
A mother blue whale can produce up to 750 pints of milk per day (94
gallons, 2-fifty gallon drums full of heavy cream)
Blue whales can eat 1.5-3 tons of food per day during feeding intervals -
equivalent to 8000 hamburgers
The lungs if a blue whale can hold more air than a small bedroom bedroom
A baby blue whale can drink 2.5 gallons of milk up to 50 times a day. A
blue whale calf can gain 250 pounds each day
9. Humpback whales feed by gulping hundreds of pounds of fish, krill and
water into their mouths and then strain the food through their baleen or
hanging fibrous plates by pushing the water out of their mouths with their
10. Humpback whales are known for their long songs---during mating season,
the males sing to the females--those males who can sing the longest, and
hold their breath the longest are the most successful - the one's that get
the female!
11. Humpback whale calves weigh 1-2 tons and are 12-15 feet long at birth
12. Humpback whales grow to 50 feet and weigh over 45 tons and are the
acrobatic, playful whales that come may come close to whale watch boats
13. Right whales can be identified by the distinctive white markings (or
callosities) on their heads
It is believed that some large species of whales may live for more than
150 years
14. Whales tail fibers are so strong that they can be hung by their flukes
and will not rip apart. They need this strength to push against the water
to move forward
A 12,000 pound orca or killer whale (Free Willy) can leap 20 feet up into
the air
Fish swim by moving their tail from side to side while whales swim by
moving their tail up and down. The upward motion is the power stroke
Toothed whales like dolphins do not chew their food. These teeth are used
only to catch food
Toothed whales are generally smaller than baleen whales because they need
to chase and catch their prey. Baleen whales just cruise around with their
mouth open and gather it
15. Sound travels four (4) times faster in water than in air, approximately
a mile per second. A whale can send a sound out and detect a school of fish
a mile away in two seconds. (It takes one second for the sound to get there
and one for it to bounce back)
Whale echolocation is so precise, it can not only detect the shape and
size of an object but also what it is made of. For instance, if an echo is
directed at a diver, a dolphin not only know the outside shape of the human
but can also detect it's skeleton
16. Whales also use their "echolocation" to "see" the surrounding
geography, which probably helps them navigate
17. Scientists believe that the sounds used for echolocation originate in
air sacs, then moves through the oil filled melon, which is thought to
focus the sound. The returning sounds are picked up in the lower jawbone
and travels to the inner ear
Baby whales put on weight quickly. Blue whale calves can gain ten pounds
per hour
18. Some layers of water in the ocean carry sound better than other areas.
Whales use these layers to talk to each other over great distances. Fin
whales can talk to each other although they are 2000 miles apart
Whales take several deep breaths before diving. They use this extra
oxygen in their blood and store it in their muscles
Most whales have five fingers in their flippers
Oceans cover 70% of the planet and supply more oxygen than the rain forests

Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance
191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA
(781) 259-0423

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