Whale Diversity

From: Pieter Folkens (animalbytes@earthlink.net)
Date: Mon Mar 24 2003 - 12:21:22 EST

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    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.

    Cheers,

    Pieter Folkens



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