From: Greg Early (
Date: Mon Oct 07 2002 - 10:02:32 EDT

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    I guess it would depend a bit on where you were looking at your whale. Is
    it in the water or is it somewhere where you can see it all over? For
    example, let's say you are sitting in a sailboat looking at the whales.
     All three swim by at the same time....the blue whale is the fastest, the
    sperm whale is not far behind and the right whale is the slowest. The
    blue whale would be the only one with a well defined fin (a dorsal fin) on
    it's back. Also, you can tell the difference by looking at the shape of
    the cloud of condensation made when the whale exhales (its "blow"). A
    sperm whale (like all toothed whales and dolphins) has a single blowhole at
    an angle on the top/front part of its head, so it has a single blow that
    comes up at an angle. A right whale (like all baleen whales) has a double
    blowhole on the top of its head. It has a double blow. A blue whale, even
    though it also has a double blowhole has a high and straight blow. There
    are several good field guide books that show the difference between the
    blows of different types of whales. Some whales can be individually
    identified by the shape and size of their blow. If you read the story of
    "Moby Dick", one of the ways that they could identify Moby Dick (besides
    the fact that he was all white) was the shape and size of his blow.

    If you were to see these whales on shore (or from an airplane in clear
    water) so you could see them well, there are many other ways to tell them
    apart. The blue whale would be the longest. The sperm whale would be the
    only one with teeth. The right whale and the blue whale have baleen
    instead of teeth. The baleen in the right whale is much longer than the
    baleen in the blue whale. The blue whale is the only one of the three that
    would have folds running along the underside of its throat. These folds
    expand and help the blue whale filter more water with it's baleen. (Look
    at the picture of me standing on the whale in my ASK homepage. That whale
    is a humpback whale, but it is lying on it's back and yu can clearly see
    the folds along it's underside.).

    There are other ways as well, but you can probably find many of these
    differences by looking at some field guides wither in print or on the web
    (check the WhaleNet archive).

    Good luck,


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Rob & Dee Bower []
    Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2002 8:45 PM

    Hi Mr. Early,
       My name is Julia Bower and I am a homeschooled student. I am studying
    whales and am trying to find out how someone would tell the difference
    between a blue whale, a sperm whale and a right whale. I have found out
    alot of information but am still not sure how they would look different.
     Thank you for your help! You must have a great job. I would love to hear
    more about what you do exactly.
                                           Sincerely, Julia Bower
                                                              8 years old

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