whale blubber

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun Nov 18 2001 - 03:13:25 EST

>1. What is blubber?

Blubber is a subcutaneous layer of fat. (Subcutaneous means just
below the skin.)

>2. What purpose does blubber serve for us in society?

The purpose of blubber for the whale is to provide insulation from
the cold water and it stores energy.

Blubber provides food for some people, such as the Inupiat of the
Western Arctic. Historically, blubber was rendered down (boiled) by
whalers into an oil that was useful in making candles, burning in
lamps, and in a variety of other uses. It hold no societal purpose at
this time.

>3. Why are whales destroyed for their blubber and is this the only animal
>that can produce it?

Whales were killed historically for their blubber because it was
profitable. There was money to be made in whale oil.

All mammals produce fat -- some more than others. In whales, the
location of fat is purposeful to provide insulation, as well as store
energy. In other mammals (such as humans), fat does provide some
insulation, but that is not its purpose. In most other mammals,
insulation is provided by hair, and fat stores energy. Whales lost
their hair through evolution because it causes a drag while swimming
under water. A smooth skin is more efficient in water.


Pieter Folkens
Alaska Whale Foundation

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