whales

From: NAMMACETA@aol.com
Date: Thu Oct 19 2000 - 15:41:08 EDT


Hello again

You have asked some more great questions. So, here goes:

Why is the blue whale called blue: The whales are a dark grey color and in
the water look bluish. Because of their very white bellies, often inhabited
by sheets of golden algae giving the undersides a yellow color, the whalers
nicknamed blue whales "sulphur bottoms".

How many tons of krill doea a blue whale eat?: Amazingly an adult humpback
eats 2000 pounds a day, finbacks eat 4000 pounds a day and blue whales
consume as much as 8000 pounds a day (4 tons). That's 32000 quarter pounders
at McDonald's drive thru.

Approximately how many plates of baleen does a blue whale have?: Most baleen
whales have 350 to 400 plates on each side of their mouth. So, up to 800 all
together.

Where do I work: My on the ocean work is off the coast of northern
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. I have an office in my home in
Maine where I write from.

How long does a blue whale live?: They can live to be 60-80 years old.
Dolphin species live about 20-30 years so far as we know.

An interesting fact about Orcas: I remember being surprised to learn from
biologists on the west coast that orca herds are led by females. We had
always thought that large males ran each pod.

The most interesting thing I have found underwater that has to do with
whales: Actually, this was given to me. A fishing boat from the Portsmouth,
NH area once got a vertebrae as big as a small sitting stool, and a 14-foot
long jaw bone in their net.

How many pounds of fish do Orcas eat in a year?: An adult Orca could eat up
to 10% of it body weight daily. If an average Orca weighs 500 pounds, that
would be 50 pounds a day X 365 = 18,250 pounds a year.

Were bottlenose dolphins bigger millions of years ago?: Probably not
significantly different than today.

Have you ever seen a narwhal? No, I have not had that chance. I have been
in waters where there is a chance of seeing them. But I have not been that
lucky.

Where are narwhals commonly found?: In arctic waters and low arctic waters
around the arctic circle. They like it cold.

Size of beluga whale calves?: At birth, belugas are about 4-5 feet long, and
grow quickly for safety and warmth. They weigh 75-100 pounds.

Do belugas dive deep for their food?: Yes, belugas feed on a variety of
bottom and near bottom dwellers and will go down to 1100-1200 feet. Dives
are 10-13 minutes, so that's a very fast up and down and search time.

Narwhals are reported to be somewhat shy. They have been hunted
historically, so are wary of humans and boats.

How did the beluga get its name?: That is a good question, and I don't know.
 The scientific name Delphinapterus leucas means the white (leucas) dolphin
(Delphin) without a fin (apterus). Beluga is probably Inuit or Russian in
origin maybe?

Have I ever seen a beluga?: Yes I have. In the wild in eastern Canada, and
in aquariums like Mystic in Connecticut. They are very beautiful animals.

Do bowheads have unique marks like humpbacks?: Not on their tails, but
bowheads have unique white markings and shadings on their throat areas that
can be used to tell them apart.

Why do whales migrate?: Generally to have their calves in warmer waters than
what they feed in. Or to move to feeding grounds from calving waters, since
they fast in their birthing waters. Humpbacks lose as much as 15 tons of
weight in the winter. Explains that big appetite when they get back here.

Why does the bowheads head get bigger at the mouth?: This is a phenomenally
great question!! It has to do with feeding methods and the type of prey.
Many whales have huge mouths, which gives them a "dumpster-like" appearance
when feeding. This is to be able to scoop as efficiently as possible.
Remember how much they eat. Bowheads have very long baleen, with plates in
the back of the mouth being 14 feet long or longer. They have big arched
upper jaws so that the baleen can fit in the mouth. When open, and skimming
along for the tiny plankton animals they feed on, that huge mouth and long
baleen makes an enormous filter.

Have I ever seen a beached whale:? Yes I have. Both big whales like
humpback and right whales and finback whales and minkes, and also dolphins
and pilot whales, which are dolphins.

How old was I when I saw my first whale?: I was in my twenties. However,
now with so many whale watching trips, many infants see whales. My son saw
whales well before he was one. The same with Mike Williamson's children.

How did I get interested in whales?: I was studying sea otters in California
for many years. When I returned home to New England, I began studying seals
and then began organizing whale trips so that I could photograph whales.

My favorite species of whale and why?: Although I love humpbacks, my
favorite species has to be the blue whale. I have not seen many, but those I
did see were from small inflatable boats at very close range. I felt like I
was sitting in front of an oncoming locomotive. Plus there is much to learn
about blue whales.

Is there more than one kind of narwhal?: No, not that I am aware of.
Although there are probably isolated populations that may have different
characteristics and habits.

How many white whales have I seen:? Just a few belugas. Maybe 20-30 in the
ocean.

Are their albino whales:? Yes there are. In National Geographic in the
June, July or August issue in 1996, Flip Nicklin has some sensational
photographs of an albino sperm whale. Moby Dick was based on some factual
material. See if your library has that, or you may have it at home.

How old was I when I first started studying whales?: I was about 25.

If you have any more questions, be sure and ask me. Its been fun working
with you. You are a smart and inquisitive class!

Scott



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