From: Sue Shirley [SMTP:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 9:26 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: whale questions
The following questions are from my fifth grade students who just began
learning about whales. Thank you in advance for answering them.
Ms. Shirley, I've stuck my answers next to the questions.....
from Allena and Katharine: How many whales do you, on average, rescue in a
year? When I was helping to rescue whales (that was a few years ago), it
would depend from year to year. If you include dolphins, our program might
have had as many as six or seven a year that we would bring back to the
aquarium and try to treat. The most we were ever able to "rescue" at one
time was a herd of about 26 pilot whales that we were able to get out of a
marsh and out to sea. By the way we would also rescue a few dozen seals
and turtles each year as well...
What is your favorite species of whale and why?
Hard to pick just one. I have always liked sperm whales and pilot whaled
quite a bit. Moby Dick probably got me started on sperm whales .
How many whales are captured each year? These days not very many whales
(or dolphins) are captured for aquariums and zoos. Far more are captured
as a part of hunts (whales are still hunted for food in some parts of the
world and commercial whaling is still going on in some countries). If you
include dolphins and small whales, far more are caught unintentionally as a
part of fishing.
from Rebecca: Do you find more beached babies or adults? For seals, we
find a lot more babies than adults. For most whales it is just the
opposite. We find many more adults (and young adults) than young. This is
because we often have whole herds of whales or dolphins come ashore at one
Does anyone help you with beached whales? Lots and lots and lots of people
help with rescuing whales (and seals). These can be people that are
trained as rescue volunteers, or people that help with equipment (boats,
etc) that we need during strandings. It is important, however that anyone
that wants to help, find out how to be trained and become a member of a
stranding team. Otherwise you could hurt yourself or the animal you are
trying to help.
On what beach are most beached whales found? On the east coast of the US,
most of the strandings occur along the bay beaches of Cape Cod between the
towns of Brewster and Truro (most in Welfleet and Eastham)
How many whales typically beach at one time? Anywhere from one at a time
to the most I have ever seen at one time (98). There are records of
beachings (actually this was during a time when people would drive whales
ashore to get oil from them...in the 1800's) on Cape Cod of over 1500
whales at one time......yikes...
from Matt and Alex: Are their whales in the aquarium? Not at the New
England Aquarium. There were dolphins there until about ten years ago.
What does a whale's skin feel like? A wet hard boiled egg (I'm not
making that up....)
from Esme and Callie: What got you interested in whales? It seems like I
have always been interested in them. Tis might be because I grew up in the
town of New Bedford (Mass.), which used to be the whaling capital of the
world during the 1800's. There is a lot of whaling history around the
town, and I can remember going to the whaling museum and looking at whale
jaws, and a scale model whale ship (that you can walk on), and many other
things that made me wonder just what whales were really like.
from Conor and Brad: What type of whale beaches the most often? Around the
Northeast the most common (if you include dolphins and porpoises) would be
harbor porpoise, whitesided dolphins and pilot whales. The largest whales
that strand are probably humpback whales and minke whales.
from Nat and Nadia: How are radio tags attached to whales?Well it depends
on how long you want it to stick on. Some tags can be stuck on a whale
with a suction cup, but those tags will only stay on for a few hours at the
most. To get a tag to stay on longer, it must be attached to the whales
skin. On small whales (like pilot whales) tags can be surgically attached
to pins through their dorsal fins. Sounds gruesome, but it is probably a
bit like having an ear pierced for the whale.
What is the most commonly seen whale in New England? Probably fin whales
and humpback whales. There are probably more minke whales around, it is
just harder to find the little guys...
What species of whale do you know the most about? There are probably some
people that say I don't know much about any whales, but I probably know
more about pilot whales than any others (I've spent more time working with
Where did you see your first whale? I saw a lot of bits and pieces of
whales in museums, before I saw my first whole one. The first live (and
dead) whale I saw was a humpback whale. The first live whale (not a
dolphin or porpoise) I touched was a baby sperm whale that we were trying
to rescue in a tank at the New England Aquarium.
Thanks for the questions everybody.....
Dedham Country Day School
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