Questions on whales

From: Phil Clapham (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 12:29:05 EST

> Do whales have any enemies besides man?
Killer whales and some sharks will sometimes attack even large whales.
> If yes, how do they protect themselves?
Large whales can use their powerful tails. Sperm whales will group
together in a sort of circular formation for defense. But no whale is
likely to be able to fend off a porlonged, coordinated attack by a group
of killer whales.
> Do they use protective coloration or live in colonies for
> self-protection?
Most whales are camouflaged through counter-shading (dark above and
white or light color below so that they can't be as easily seen from
above and below). Some whales live in groups, which is partly for
protection (sperm whales, pilot whales etc). Others don't, including
all the baleen whales (humpbacks, blues etc), maybe because they aren't
attacked often enough to make this worthwhile.

> How are babies born and grow?
Live birth, probably very quick; sometimes head first, sometimes tail
first. They suckle on milk and large whales grow very rapidly - blue
whale calves grow at about an inch a day!

> Do the parents take care of their young or do they let them go survive
> on their own?
In baleen whales the mothers take care of the young for 6-12 months, and
then they're on their own. In sperm whales, young remain for many years
with their moms. In pilot whales and killer whales, they stay with
their family group for life. In all large whales, the fathers have
nothing to do with raising the calves.
> What do whales eat?
Baleen whales eat fish or plankton, depending on the species of whale
(e.g. humpbacks eat fish and krill, right whales eat only plankton).
Sperm whales and many other toothed whales eat squid and some fish.

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