On Monday, March 24, 2003, at 07:44 AM, Flipflip1185@aol.com wrote:
> I'v been looking at websites for whales and i had 2 questions for
> you.. i would greatly appreciate if you could help me find the answers
> to my problems.
> How many diffrent kinds of whales exist today in the world?
There are around 80 species of cetaceans which includes whales and
dolphins. The number is not absolute because there is some disagreement
as to exactly what defines a species. For example, some researchers
(lumpers) believe there is one right whale species grouped with the bow
head whale in one genus, Balaena. Other workers (splitters) believe
there are three species of right whales in the genus Eubalaena, and the
bow head is one species in Balaena. A problem for the splitters is that
if the degree of biological differences they apply to right whales were
applied to human beings, the latter would be divided into several
species, perhaps as many as 8. In other words, the fundamental
anatomical/biological differences between the North Pacific right whale
and the North Atlantic right whales is substantially less than the
differences between Scandinavians and an Australian aboriginals.
> What are the characteristics of diffrent whale spieces?
The answer to that question is so large that it is beyond the scope of
this program. I suggest you consult a good field guide on the subject.
The most recent one of merit is the National Audubon Guide to Marine
Mammals of the World. An older one, but one which also effectively
explains the characters is Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises, by Mark
Carwardine. A much older one, but a good reference none the less is the
Sierra Club Handbook of Whales and Dolphins.
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