Why are whales so big?

From: Phil Clapham (phillip.clapham@noaa.gov)
Date: Mon Jan 22 2001 - 09:30:47 EST


Good question! It's not entirely clear why whales are so big. It's
probably because, the bigger you are, the easier it is to stay warm. So
size allows whales to stay in cold water (like the Arctic or Antarctic,
where many of them feed) without dying of cold. Size also means that
they can store lots of fat (in their blubber), so that they have big
reserves of "food" to get them through the winter when they migrate to
warmer waters and don't eat (they don't eat there because most tropical
waters arent very productive and dont have the big schools of fish or
krill that whales need, so they have to rely on the fat that they've
built up during the summer feeding season).

Phil Clapham

Kristin Coleman wrote:
> I am in 4th grade and we are studying whales. I have not been able to
> find out why whales are so big. Do you know? Thank you.


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D. Large Whale Biology Program Northeast Fisheries Science Center 166 Water Street Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316 fax (508) 495-2258 Internet: phillip.clapham@noaa.gov

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